Making connections between things is believed – generally by those positivist-materialist devotees who these days claim to be the sole representatives of Science – to be part of our brain’s hardwiring, part of the equipment that has made us humans so “successful” in evolutionary terms. Why? Because if you’re hardwired to make connections between things it puts you at an “advantage” over, say, mice or marmosets or polar bears, who are, I suppose, too stupid to make the sort of connections that they would consider (supposing they considered things at all) to be rather bizarre. Marmosets, etc. would be – according to the positivist-materialist coterie – hardwired to go straight for whatever their instinct leads them to, and if that somewhere happens to be a mousetrap or a melting chunk of the Greenland Ice Field then it’s hard luck mate, that’s evolution, tough you were made stupid. On the other hand, if a good enough proportion of mice avoid both the mousetraps and the melting ice-sheets (not to mention cats, buzzards, cars etc) then suddenly they’re re-promoted to the ranks of clever; but human beings, who are still busy making bizarre connections between unrelated things, may well become prey to the process going too far, and start to make connections between things that are downright irrational, like reading their future in random patterns of stars or even believing that God has sent them a Sign.
Well, I don’t know about any of that: I do know that part of my process of making up stories, or poems, involves seeing connections between things that are not necessarily obvious to a normally-functioning intelligence. I don’t mean just the obvious things like, for example, hearing Bob Dylan singing The Times They Are a-Changing on Desert Island Discs this morning and then running into a chap playing the same song (in extremely close imitation of Bob, too) in Tesco’s car park, but all the little signs, traces and clues that you’ll be taught to be awake to if for example you embark on a modern Shamanism course.
Take Coldhome water, for example. Ellie and I got a right finger-wagging from her dentist on account of her not-so-great teeth, and he wanted to get right down to the ritual humiliation of the Diet Sheet so that he could get his Treatment started by pointing out the error of our ways, at least in respect of what we feed our children. As I didn’t intend to take this kind of approach from a young whippersnapper almost young enough to be my grandson I didn’t co-operate too well, but back at the ranch we did sit down to do a bit of soul-searching about the relatively poor performance of Ellie’s teeth compared to her older siblings. Five of these older siblings had been raised on raw goat’s milk, which we naively suppose to have made some difference, but not so Maddy, who has pretty good teeth despite this disadvantage. – Meanwhile the fantastic weather we’ve all been enjoying was, as we spoke, starting to look a bit tattered, and dark clouds were approaching – much to our delight, I should say, since, having got our best ever hay crop safely under cover, we were looking for a little respite from the parched conditions for the crops we hope to harvest later on, not to mention the chance of finally getting a wash and making a start on the mountain of dirty clothes. Now, I had been putting up a new and improved water-collector in our Long Byre, one that gathers water from the two valley-forming roofs into a collector-butt more efficiently than heretofore, and which I’d provided with a pretty smart-looking overflow system. Anyway, along came the rain and guess what? – the fantastically efficient collector system worked wonderfully and the overflow system was totally inadequate for the kind of tropical thunderstorm we were treated to: I mean, in the space of about ten seconds the collector butt was transformed from a decently-functioning receptacle into a gushing fountain which discharged hundreds of gallons of water over the floor, whose carefully-constructed cob sublayers had been busily drying out over the past year.
What did I think? Well, the non-positivist/materialist/rationalist part of me (about 92 per cent) thought someone’s trying to tell me something. But what? Well, like, make a better overflow….? Yes, I got that message – but what about the other message? Haha, it took a bit more Coldhome-style argumentation for it to dawn: could our drinking water be rather acidic, and this be adversely affecting the Coldhome teeth, particularly those of the Youngest? Our pal Fi, visiting at the time, pointed out that the acid effect of low-pH water is enhanced by heating it. – So, as Ellie was being strapped to her rack the next day for the start of the Treatment, I put this possibility to our good dentist, who looked wholly bemused by it. Did I mean, was our water not fluoridated? he enquired…. I don’t know (head in hands moment), I sometimes wonder if anyone in the medical profession takes the dietary aspects of disease and health into account at all. I somehow doubt whether the ritual purifications so devoutly enjoined on us by dentists have ever been tested out over, say, a fifty year period – to my mind the minimum a study of the detailed effects of diet on health would require – and in fact I believe that the main dietary (or do I mean religious?) advice which dentists would like to give, if they could get away with it, would be to never put anything in our mouths whatsoever – that way our lovely pearly-whites would remain forever pristine and virginal. Yes, we’d be dead, but so what? – just look at that dental arch!
Anyway, just to finish, and just to emphasise that the All-Spirit does speak to us through Signs, what happened to poor Ellie as the first episode of her Treatment began (I should mention that after her check-up she promptly added a profound fear of dentists to her list of Fears, which includes such things as forest fires and thunderstorms and the hindquarters of horses)? As she lay, strapped to her rack while the dentist opened up a veritable Pit amongst her pearlies – oh yes, another thunderstorm passed directly overhead, out went the lights, down went the drill, and for fully two seconds our eyes all turned heavenwards…. Oh yes, brothers and sisters. I’m happy to relate that everything then just as unexpectedly returned to normal, though due to the beneficence of what Higher Being none of us (seeing we were in a modern dentists’ surgery) cared to say.
Small postscript. I did a pH test on our drinking water just before sending this to Press. pH = 6.5. Bang goes that theory, maybe. Maybe the Higher Being just doesn’t like visits to the dentist.