The first time I heard the word 'turgid' was in a printmaking class nearly forty years ago and I had no idea what it meant. I needed to know because my lecturer was using it to refer to a print I was working on, and I could tell he wasn't being complementary. It means 'swollen or distended and congested'. I am still not sure it was really the word he was reaching for when he wanted me to know just how bloody awful my artwork was. Nonetheless, it is a word that has become quite useful since, to describe a number of situations. And the weekend we've just had is one of them.
I live in South East Queensland, and the weekend for me was one of anxiously checking the creek level in the front of our property, putting buckets under the leaks that we inevitably sprung in our roof, and surveying the creeping black mould that is now thriving over our fireplace. The rain was relentless. Over about 4 days, we received more than a metre and a half of water. I got stuck on Facebook for a while comparing photos with friends and neighbours of our respective building bodies of water in our front yards, in our side alleys and across our roads. "Turgid" could have described the way we were all feeling, trying to be optimistic and philosophical with the anxiety building so we were distended and swollen with worry. "Turgid'' definitely described the creek out the front as it carried huge volumes of water further down stream (see below).
Of course for some people "turgid" barely begins to describe their feelings. Some have lost everything - their houses, possessions, pets and in some cases their lives. In these circumstances, I always worry about wildlife that is equally affected by flooding. No doubt lives lost included those of our wild neighbours as well. And even though in SE Queensland, the rain has stopped for now, the same system that drowned our corner of the world is now turning the rivers, creeks and waterways of NSW into turgid rivers of death.
You've gotta love the media, who seemed stuck on comparing this event to that of 2011, also a turgid time for our area for similar reasons. I heard countless times that 'levels were not as high as 2011'; 'it wasn't going to be as bad as '2011'. I guess reporters thought it was a good yard stick for people to use, but it was largely irrelevant, especially if you weren't here in 2011, and I am pretty sure it caused a composure in people that they have since lived to regret. Okay, the Brisbane River is not as high as it was in 2011. But there are countless examples around my place where it was much much worse. Records that have stood for more than 30 years have fallen with roads being cut, damns overflowing, and absolute chaos that I don't remember in 2011. And certainly, for anyone who has suffered loss, it is most assuredly worse than 2011. My point is, this was a different event. And in a world of new and improved extremes and catastrophes, we'd best remember that when the next one comes along. Which, we are coming to learn, it will.
As a case in point, while some of us in the Great South Land were stressing about the weather, many were also stressing about events happening on the other side of the world to us. It would seem that the hatred, crazy and general nastiness has built up in Vladimir Putin, making him a turgid mess, hellbent on destroying the Ukraine, Russia and the world if he deems it necessary. Clearly not content with the fallout from a global pandemic and other miscellaneous disasters, he has, as you know decided to let loose on the people of Ukraine. He has done this without any real provocation, purely as a show of strength and without regard for the millions of lives he will destroy in the process. I am not really sure what happens when we finally depart this mortal coil, but you've got to hope there is a special place in hell reserved for the likes of this turgidly ugly little man.
So, like many of you, I am guessing, the last few days has made me feel somewhat anxious and unnerved. Turgid is definitely the word to describe my insides right now. For myself, I am trying to use art and meditation to calm the raging and congested river of negative feelings, reaching out to those who are worse off than me, and trying to practice the 'random acts of kindness' mantra I have made for myself this year. I think that it is okay to administer some of those on yourself, as well. So, I wish you all well, especially those who are doing it tough right now. May you know calm, peace and love during our 'turgid' times.