The Short and the Long

            ‘It’s the endless summer,’ I said to Camp when I settled into my corner at our watering hole. ‘No rain in three months makes this a lovely summer.’

            ‘Except for the usual stage 4 water restrictions, forest fires and dried up salmon streams,’ Camp grumbled, ‘but winter is coming, as they say.’ 

            ‘Oh well, I love this time of year, harvest time in Clare’s garden, which is awash in zucchinis and yellow tomatoes. We’ve been eating, canning and freezing the bounty. You and Muriel must come over for dinner.’

 ‘Thank you, we will. Did you hear about Svante Paabo, the Swede who won the Nobel prize in medicine for unlocking the Neanderthal DNA? Paabo and his team found genes flowing from Neanderthals to Homo sapiens about 800’000 years ago. This transfer of genes between hominin species affects how the immune system of modern humans reacts to infections, such as the coronavirus. Imagine that.’

            ‘Fascinating stuff really,’ I said. 800’000 years is a long time but then again dinosaurs lived 230 to 66 million years ago, give or take a few million.’

            ‘And our planet was once an ice-ball for a billion years, way back in time. ‘

            We both contemplated the mysteries of the universe for a beat trying to wrap our heads around that immense time and space continuum and the fact that our beers were already empty again.

“You think if we could live longer, we would be better off as a species? I asked Camp. 

‘I’m all for longevity and tend to believe that if we could live 2 or 3 centuries, we might have a better long-term outlook for our environment,’ he said, ‘but as it is right now, mostly old men, who are in the last quarter of their lives, make all the important decisions for future generations. Not a lot of incentive to think long-term when the grim reaper is just around the corner and the damage is already done.’

“Would you really want to live to 300 years old?’ I said, ‘that would change a few things. We could retire at 250 years old, have children until we’re about middle age, say 200 or thereabouts, take out two-hundred-year mortgages. What about marriages and partnerships? Would they last that long?’

Camp stared into his empty beer and said nothing which was unusual. Eventually he looked up and shook his head. ‘Yeah, you’re right. Let’s be happy with the time we have and make the best of it. I haven’t really thought about the details,’ he admitted. I was just wondering if we would be more careful and responsible about our environment and the future of our species if we lived longer. Just a silly thought really, probably brought on by the drink.’

‘Well, you keep thinking, it’s good for the mind I hear,’ I quipped and just in time to avoid a nasty retort Vicky arrived and exchanged our empties for two frosty full ones.’

‘Enjoying our glorious weather boys? You should be out there enjoying the sun.’

‘I like my sunshine in a glass,’ Camp said, raising his pint.

‘And I walk along the shore to the pub, but you’re right, we should spend more time outside; maybe we’ll take our drinks out to the patio. ‘What’ you say Camp?’ 

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