Ben ~ the week after.


My Ben came to the end of his life a week ago to the day. So many mixed emotions, but there was nothing else I could do. They come to you. They get old; they die. My daughter and I stroked his velvet ears, at home, as the vet injected him for the very last time. Painless and quick.

My mind, full of memories, has been in flux ever since. And it is a conscious effort to process all the questions that bubble up whilst submerged in grief. Most remain unanswered. The pain is searing, the whole thing so physical.

We lived closely at home, work and play; foot to paw. I knew every ripple of his coat, his transforming colours in the sunlight, the flecks in his irises. I knew his anxieties and frustrations. And he knew mine.

Ben loved the horizon. He could sit for hours and stare for miles. It was beautiful to watch. But he loved to track scent, yes, the wilder the better. On three continents, we explored. You might imagine.

King of the Wye, he was water boy. And he knew every scrap of Westhope Hill. He knew particular plants. And the Begwyns. And latterly, Sully Island. And Dunraven and Monknash. And Lanlay. And the canal, and then just the park. With my ex husband, it was a little different ~ Offas Dyke summits and Radnor pine forests for them. And moors and heather. A little more rangy, further, distant…

And Ben ran swiftest, like an arrow, with plants and soils underpaw. His favorite task was to explore new terrain in good company, the pack running ~ a seemingly unlimited flow of joy eminating from his timeless brown eyes and waggy brush-tail. So many moments and so many stories; bears, coyotes, porcupines, possums and even the most elegant monarch butterfly landing on his nose.

All we can hope for is to enjoy the best life with them, to care and love them as dogs. They aren’t chattels; they are deeply emotional beings with long memories for the pack and its forays. They don’t respond well at all to meaness. They like routine and need to feel part of the pack, never separate unless it’s their choice. Contact is essential, but not total dominance. When they are fearful, they get angry. There is trust, but it is earned. They love a sense of purpose. They bond via licks.

My Ben. I lived with a being that was 99% wolf for 16 years, whom I cared for as deeply as it is possible. If we were apart, we pined. Now it’s just me. We lived the life-shocks and lulls. He’s my blood.

He grew old and died. His name was Ben.



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The Queen’s Nectar Cup.


Bombus lapidarius, the red-tailed bumblebee, photo by me.

“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort. There must be the will to produce a superior thing.”

― John Ruskin

The banks of the river fell sharply away, just as Cormorant sunk beneath the surface like a lead weight. I traced her bubble fish-hunt until she popped up again like a charred log. With a smile, I acknowledged her ability. How did she learn this? Was it something innate, observational or was it by instruction? I returned my attention to the steep river bank, lowered myself over tussock and bramble, to find the sturdiness of a small shingle-cove. There I stood, rooted, feeling the vibrations of a rolling Afon Taff through my boots and into my bones.

I heard the buzz again; she was here somewhere.

I took a minute to observe the water. Sometimes at the river the best things happen when I have my back turned to it. This requires trust gleaned through experience. I’ve spent thousands of hours by rivers and they can be dangerous. Usually, I watch the flow for a good few minutes, and when all patterns are relatively steady and predictable, I’ll turn and face the hinterland.

Somewhat self-assured, but not entirely (I was in a hurry), I turned and leaned close to the bank to find my Queen. With one foot on the shingle and the other on tussock, my landward knee took all my weight and a pain shot through the ligaments. I winced and pondered; I am getting too old to be clambering about on tangled riverbanks. The thought terrified me, so I quickly threw it in the water with an old pebble I found in my pocket.

Queen Red-Tail, on the other hand, was born just last summer, as a gyne, a virgin bumblebee queen. She’d matured enough to fly and mate before winter, and after a lonely hibernation, has emerged to find reviving nectar and a new hollow somewhere along the Taff. For the last twenty minutes, I’d watched her forage among the daisies. Glistening wings blurred over her downy, black sphere, adapted from a long line of ancestors for cooler, lengthier, seasons. Perhaps, an inch long, her plump form is dusted, rear end, as if dipped in cinnabar.

My eyes strained to watch as she crawled through a few ivy leaves, wings beating at a low resonance. I could hardly tell her apart from the shadows. But then she disappeared down a black hole and was gone. Alice-like, I followed her into this strange under-world, a realm of springtails and earthworms and all manner of semi-aquatic life we humans cannot see. I had never thought of a queen bumble bee as a potholer before. But spelaeologist she is; a cave dweller, of her own scale, in a depth of blackness, water, and organic and mineral-matter.

Here, she will live in symbiosis with her own microbiome and other soil-life, making it comfy and warm, using soft fibres for lining. Here, she will be all-purveying through the colony’s social phase ~ producing worker daughters. Present, she is Bee-as-Dasein (Heidegger/Tao), existential of this world, active in caring now and for what comes next.

Leaning in again, I put my ear to the ground. When her delicate shuffling sounds dampened and stopped, I noticed a ball of wet moss and twigs to the side of the entrance. I couldn’t resist rolling it sideways to see what I could see. The ball of moss went deeper than expected, a good few inches, and with a pang of guilt searing through me as I observed my Queen in her hollow. I gazed for only a couple of seconds and her eyes glinted. Right next to her was a little wax pot full of nectar.

I quickly replaced the moss to avoid more disturbance, so what I write next is my memory from that moment of voyeurism. A cup is a better description than a pot. Its surface was reddish and marginally scaly. Curvacious to organic perfection, a wide brim narrowed to a smaller flat base, but its thickness was fairly uniform. Inside, a dark liquid shone like molasses.

This is her fuel; a honey store of energy for colder days, when she is bound to stay inside, dipping her feathery tongue into its goodness. She’ll need it for incubating eggs and keeping all warm by shivering her muscles. Together, the cup and the nectar are mindfulness manifest (McEvilley); more than art and techne. This is Queen Red-Tail Phronesis, an evolved practical wisdom, and I contend as high a knowing as any epistemological concept. And she will make more cups, in time, and fill them for the good of the colony ~ an enactment of care for process; essence of intelligent bumblebee, and on through her genetic line.

She has made it from a waxy substance secreted in small flakes from between her chitinous, abdominal plates. With her feet and, perhaps, her mandibles, saliva and microbes, she softens the material and crafts this vessel with utter devotion. Her masterpiece is of her own body. It is part of her. This IS her: Matriarch. The wax itself emits scent, pheromones, cues, that control the fertility of her worker daughters in the language of chemistry. Without her bee-biosemiotics, the colony would overpopulate, malfunction, with disorder and suffering due to shortages of food.

How does she know what to do, why and how to care for herself and her family in this way? Is it learned very early from others whilst in larval stage the previous year, or is this something deeply innate, hard-wired, like a human baby seeks her mother’s breast at birth? Queen Red-Tail has also crafted pollen balls upon which she lays her eggs to hatch out and feed; such preparedness for what comes about in the following months. And in doing so, she will pollinate many plants. It is a pure devotion to her cause and that of her offspring. It is love. Why not? Bees are emotional beings.

On she will go for a while, making more nectar cups and foraging food for her offspring. She’ll keep them warm until matured, and then they’ll assume many of her tasks. They will cool the nest in high summer by wafting fresh air inside from the entrance, and find food for the colony, leaving more scent trails on flowers as signals to others.

But Queen is now bound to her underground existence, never to leave again. She will produce the next brood using sperm stored in her body from last year, new gynes and males who will abandon the nest to find new mates and start anew. Then she will die and her end will come in Autumn. All will wither, including her nectar cups, to return to dust to begin once more as life, unchartered. This is her gift to the soil.

I gazed at the ball of moss for a while longer and all remained still. Queen was underneath, getting ready to lay eggs, my guilt feeling a little assuaged. I turned again to the river. Plastic drinks bottles bobbed in the shallows and a mallard furiously peddled away from me in a downstream-diagonal. I waded in to retrieve the rubbish, as slabs of brown Taff water slumped south towards the artifice of Cardiff Bay. From there, the water will make its way to the sluish gates and drop to the monster tides of the Severn Sea. And I considered, from bee to sea, there is presence, lives in process, an intelligent, interconnected craft. It is a superior thing, fluminism, and inspires our own participation and wilful devotion to life on this rare planet.

With love.



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The Manukau Light ~ a little (true) story.

There once was a time when I was out of my head on benzodiazepines, and as sleepless as the City That Never Sleeps.

Delivered by pumpkin-mice-magic (I can’t remember the car journey), I had found myself at the Cardinal Clinic, Windsor, to be treated intensively for PTSD.

Peak Fall. Crisp, clear days; the birds sang brightly and squirrels danced in the trees. But I could not engage. I could neither look nor listen. Burned into my memory was the vision of my mother, dead from suicide, in a blue nighty I’d bought for her birthday.

My Prince, based at the clinic that was once a King’s hunting lodge, was an ex-Gurkha Regiment psychiatrist. A specialist in trauma, he rescued me with Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing.

Nothing had felt real. I had dissociated with everyone bar my daughter and dog. But they were far away from me now, protected from my despair.

My body was a blithering, vigilant wreck. Electric-edged dreams woke me at every turn, and in just three months, I’d shrunk, dear Alice-in-Trauma-land, from my usual size 14 to a 10. Everything blue was trigger, even the sky.  I thought I would follow my mother.

EMDR began working, and I found sleep again. There but for the grace of God go I.

I still felt lost and disconnected.

And then, one morning, a Fairy Queen appeared in the group therapy room, like a vision. A therapist in creative writing, she conjured the idea in me that I had a future. She offered me her pen, like a wand.

Only the year before, had we had been living in New Zealand. I cherished my time with my little girl in West Auckland. Whilst my husband worked downtown in an office, we would explore the rich, Waitakere forest, full of birdsong, as it tumbled south to the Munukau Harbour and its northern shores. We’d visit the beaches ~ Armour, Kakamatua, Cornwallis and Huia ~ per chance to glimpse a Maui’s dolphin (we never did).

From high over Whatipu, we would gaze south out over rolling waves; the harbour straights and to the Manukau Heads Lighthouse. As night fell, a strong beam of light reached far out over the Tasman Sea, as if trying to find something lost.

A visit home to my mother for Christmas, and I noticed the light had dimmed in her once sparkly eyes. My daughter, in her arms, put that sparkle right back. There were other reasons too, but we sold-up and arrived back in the UK to help. I was mistaken. I could not help. My mother worsened and she slipped through my fingers. I was devastated.

And so here I was, in a group therapy room with a pen-wand and a blank page.

And I wrote a story, for my daughter, in spider-writing, and I called it The Manukau Light.

Later that day, in front of a raging, log fire, surrounded by sensitive souls, I was asked to read the story out loud. When I was finished, they applauded. And, at once, I felt legitimate, reconnected and safe.

One fellow inpatient, a talented artist, asked me to draw the scene; the waves, the lighthouse and the light. She warmly offered me art materials. So right there, I drew a sketch. She asked if she could keep it. So I gave it to her.

A few weeks later (these things take time), I came home to my little family. My father, still grieving himself, bought each of his daughters an art desk for Christmas. My sister continued to draw until her stroke last year. I illustrated the Manukau Light, for my daughter, then folded away my desk as soon as it was done.

The magic was over, and it was time to continue real life, no matter how hard. And I am still on that continuum.

The Manukau Light?  My daughter loves the story, still, and we hope to publish it one day. Meanwhile, as darkness falls, we imagine the light reaching far over the Tasman sea, at last finding that lost something, after all.



Illustration by me.

(A young girl runs towards a small lighthouse, ferns and a monarch butterfly on milkweed flowers in the foreground).



Shirley, my good friend, was a fellow inpatient at the Cardinal Clinic during my stay… she has kindly given me permission to post here.

Shirley: Oh, Ginny, you have such a wonderful, descriptive style. That coupled with your gentle voice makes anything you write, such a joy to listen to. That was memory-provoking for me; I was flashing back in my mind to the scenes and groups that you describe. I remember your drawing too! The fact you can narrate such devastating and painful experiences shows how far you have come on your journey. Kudos to you for your strength of mind and soul. You are a true gem in a world of grey stone. xxx

Ginny: Shirley, this is so kind and thoughtful! I wondered whether you would remember. We all have our stories. That living room was a safe place for me, surrounded by you all, reconnecting with you all. I am trying to get the story published now. It may take some time. I hope you can find solace in that we are both still going despite the bumps! Sending love to you. Xxx





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Abstract ~ Love and ecology as an integrative force for good and as resistance to the commodification of nature and planetary harms: Introducing Fluminism.


Shiro of Hyphae, by me.


Key planetary boundaries are being exceeded by anthropogenic impacts, and at some pace (Rockstrom, et al). Climate change and biodiversity decline, consequences of hu- man/nature discordance, are impacting all aspects of human and non-human life and in all places on the planet. Human dominion has extended in the form of socio-political orientation towards the globalised, capitalist economy, and in particular to the ‘tragedy’ of limitless growth (Plumwood, Castree). In the UK, the principal approach to nature conservation from the scientific community is now hegemonic financialisation and Nat- ural Capital accounting (Daily, et al), a glove to fit the neoliberal ‘invisible hand’ (Adam Smith). Depersonalisation and reductionism persists as non-human nature is simply deemed utility to humans ~ Natural Resources ~ when in fact nature is an ever dynamic and complex matrix/flow, of individual lives and supporting elements, forming inter- connections, of which we are a part. I present Fluminism, a new love ethic and philo- sophical position, alternative to biocentrism (Taylor), ecocentrism (Naess) and anthro- pocentrism (Passmore), and innately insubordinate to the consumption patterns of a di- visive and distorted socio-political and economic value system. Emotion and rationale are inseparable (Milton), and in terms of axiology, love is largely incommensurable with commodification and, therefore, I propose Fluministic love serves to resist the debasing of nature by market force. I defend the use of neologisms and introduce Spring Theory to help redefine human language as evolutionary and part of the flow.


Ginny Battson, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter.

31 January 2018.

MA Applied Philosophy.


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Eco-Feminist? Notes.


Female mallard, by me.

UK nature, animal and conservation charities ~ some founded and inspired by courageous Victorian women such as Octavia Hill, Beatrix Potter, Anna Sewell, Alice Drakoules, Emily Williamson, Eliza Phillips ~ have been increasingly dominated by a patriarchal economy and scientific reductionism.

I’m here to say that emotions are absolutely vital. Cast off as irrational, the domain of the inferior female mind, weak, unreliable, emotions are far from it. They are evolutionary drivers of change. Lest we forget.

As humans, we are part of nature. The love we humans feel is a also a force in non-human ecological relationships (I argue via my soon-to-be-submitted Masters thesis), and a powerful one; a force that is inherent in life’s positive, generative interconnections and processes (Fluminism).

This is my secular perspective, based on ecological studies of mycelium/tree biosemiotics, cross pollination and the microbiome (within to without ourselves). I propose there is, and always has been, more relevance of co-operation over competition.

Biocentrism, Ecocentrism and new Anthropocentrism are cited largely by men in this field (Taylor, Naess, Fox, Sessions, Attfield, Passmore, et al). My work contributes to the academic field of enviroethics, in that it is the interconnections that are of primary value, ulitimately preserving both individals AND the whole, co-operatively, as opposed to a competitive-based fabrication of choice.

“Male-centredness (a good parallel in some ways to human-centredness), can be damaging to men as well as to women. It makes men insensitive to dependencies as interconnections, as well as devaluing women.” Val Plumwood.

Does it matter now that I am a woman, particularly a British woman, presenting fluminism? I think so, though I am yet to explore this in detail and, hence, vigorously defend. What do you think?

What I am sure of is that love, as a doing word, and an ‘ethic of care’ (Carol Gilligan), ensures continuance & proliferation of natural relationships, interactions and processes.

Everything merges, overlaps, blends, co-exists. Boundaries once thought impenetrable are now being found porous. Even taxonomists are finding this out. Life is complex; cosmological to quantum, and our values need to catch up with that reality.




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Poem for Buzzard



We played the common land this evening,

dipped the bumps: the hawthorn pits,
while a buzzard observed our sport
from a noble branch of sloe.
Buzzard reserved her verdict as the aviary ceiling
closed above us, swallowing the stars.
When she had vanished, we strolled
far into the dark, hollow grove
recalling her quiet perceptions.


Poem and image by me.



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But a tiny grain of protoplasm…


Woodland Edge, photo by me.

“As our mother earth is a mere speck in the sunbeam in the illimitable universe, so man himself is but a tiny grain of protoplasm in the perishable framework of organic nature. [This] clearly indicates the true place of man in nature, but it dissipates the prevalent illusion of man’s supreme importance and the arrogance with which he sets himself apart from the illimitable universe and exalts himself to the position of its most valuable element.”

~ Ernst Haeckel, The Riddle of the Universe

Prometheus Books, 1900

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Fluminism: Summary of its place in epistemology of environmental ethics.

In correspondence with my tutor…

“The big point I am making, is that unlike holism, deep ecology, Naess, I am suggesting it is the interconnections/processes, the doing, the perpetuation of life, love as a doing word, not the overall ecosystem which require the vital protective emphasis and focus. The problem with holism is that it reduces the worth of the individual. For example, farming is a kind of holism, ecocentrism (Leopold), but species are worth killing for the good of the idea of what is ‘whole’ by the farmer. Instead, by valuing the processes, individuals are generally indispensible. I disagree with the main tennet of deep ecology that the whole, including non-organics, is worth more than the individual. I have been highly biocentric as a rule, but I also think that biocentrism does not recognise the dynamic nature of nature. So I have come up with something I cannot find reference to. It is new, I think. This is the reason for the neologism, fluminism.”


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Mental wellbeing, capitalism and fluminism. Notes.

  1. 27754913103_40a3c5cfe1_b.jpg
    Photo by me

    On social media, I read of a woman who recently experienced rejection from mental health services during a crisis of severe distress and suicidal thoughts. Seemingly, nurses judged she had been ill for so long and survived that she has developed coping mechanisms so did not need further support. How devastating must that have been for her. I know something of the absolute fear and isolation suffered during times of severe distress and suicidal thoughts. My heart goes out to her.

    What kind of society perpetuates this kind of distress? A society where so many are driven to desperation, then have no-one to turn to. Humans are biologically social beings, yet our social foundations have been shaken to the core. Communities, families and institutional service providers have been hammered by the pressures of a failing economic system ~ Neoliberal Capitalism.

    Competition or co-operation? Increasingly, evidence points towards the latter as dominant in human evolution, nay, many interconnected living species. The political Right would have you think otherwise. And a globalised machine based on competition rides roughshod over mental wellbeing. So many aspects to life are bleached-out by pressures to accumulate wealth and property (capital). Poverty, trauma, money stress, expectation to produce and buy…. tensions manifest directly upon loving and supporting relationships, right across the globe.

    Mental wellbeing is complex. Humans are biologically responding to internal and external stimuli. But the externals are largely ignored in our systems of care. Individuals who suffer from the fall-out of a broken system are, instead, expected to take full responsibility for their state. Meanwhile, the machine rolls on and GDP growth remains a deeply mistaken priority.

    The accumulators persist in power. Competition is perpetuated by our education system. Commodification seeps into so many aspects of modern life. Even the monetisation of nature is being forced at a pace, adopted by advocates of a growth-oriented market system dominated by corporate interests. Nothing seems safe. Nothing sacrosanct.

    People who advocate capitalisation and market force as salvation are either blind or callous to what this is doing to us all on a leviathan scale. Lives are worn down and snuffed out by competitive examinations, interviews, PIPS, job markets, mortgage payments, rents, bills, the weekly shop. It’s a machine.

    This is not what life could be. We don’t have to accept it.

    I will not accept all-out competition is the god-given ‘natural state’ of human existence.

    All is interconnected. All is flow. We can choose to be co-operative and compassionate. We can perpetuate and proliferate positive interconnections between all living beings. I call this fluminism. Love is life. Life is love.

    But the system is rigged and has been for a very long time. It is a form of entrapment. Baby-boomers, sitting pretty on their increased assets, have forgotten a deep sense of community responsibility. They are content with their pensions, when so many born since will have none. Their votes for low taxes keep centre right and rightwing politics in power, particularly in England, where the majority of elected MPs are seated in power.
    Trauma is now shown to ripple through generations via epigenetic changes in DNA. Positivity can help to reverse these affects, but life sometimes does not work out that way. Prejudice burns through a rich fabric of life. Some people never escape the proverty trap, a long, slow traumatic experience for many, and through no fault of their own. More are falling head-first into it. How hard it is to be single and afford such huge living costs.We can perceive and measure a wide array of symptoms of a broken society worsening ~ mental distress being just one, but critical. For the greater population, and down through generations, there will be a long process of recovery, even if all our socio-political systems changed overnight. It’s salutary.
    Positive relationships are so vital to wellbeing. Yet just how many are screwed by impacts of societal stress including lack of money, loss of money and debt.

    Mad? This makes me mad. It can be different. We are so on the wrong track in the way we live our lives together. I can’t tell you how much I want this to change. Vanessa Spedding  calls this a “yearning”. This is my truth. It is a deep, unequivocal yearning for society based instead on care and compassion.

    And yet, apparently, it is me who expects too much. My hopes for love and happiness fall flat. How terribly un-pragmatic am I, dreamily romantic, to want a better life for everyone, including myself, and not just a select few. To want true equality. How “blue sky’ to want a society cleared of such false constructs, to leave room for deep love and care, for one another and for all other life.

    Let me say this in reply. Pragmatic is now RADICAL change. Every day, I read the science on the state of this amazing planet upon which we depend. The Transilience Gap is huge. Cost? There is your cost.

    I cannot repeat it enough. Positive relationships are quintessentially foundational to our wellbeing. But how many continue to be screwed by the relentless instabilities, insecurities and unpredictabilities of an economic system based on material aspiration, accumulation of money and debt.

    @acathbrn Anna Biren says:

    “This is so true. Being forced to work for the majority of the day and coming home drained and exhausted also contributes to not being able to maintain relationships. So as we grow older, the more we work, the more alienated and lonely we become.”

         And alienation and loneliness is a killer. We can do better. We can be fluminists.



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The Transilience Gap


Photo by me.








I am hoping this will focus minds.


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