Inspired by a walk the children and I took on Monday and my brief encounter with a butterfly on Tuesday, I had at go at writing haiku (as suggested in an email from the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust).
Sitting by the pond. Tadpoles swim, dragonflies speed. Quick snacks for the ducks.
Pink blossom now brown. Goose-grass crown stuck to my hair. A sparkling moment.
Cow parsley flowers. You run down the small green hill. I am eight years old.
Secret wild meadow. Branches and blossom our roof. My ideal home – tea?
Holly blue, surprise! Too fast for my camera. Butterfly catcher.
60% of children have never seen a peacock butterfly*. Is this surprising?
I’m such a Proud Mummy; Small Boy and Little Miss have not only seen peacocks but can point them out on our ID sheet. They also like to pretend to be peacock butterflies!
Yesterday, I spotted five different species of butterfly at our local nature reserve: brimstone, small white, small tortoiseshell, peacock and holly blue. Sadly, there was no sign of tadpoles in the pond where we’d seen frogspawn. Small Boy asked me what ate tadpoles. I had no idea but Google tells me dragonfly larvae, water boatmen, grass snakes, birds and hedgehogs eat 90% of frogspawn, tadpoles and froglets.
Mr Pilgrim and I enjoyed a early morning walk on Sunday morning in Christ Church Meadow in Oxford which was full of the colours of an English spring: yellow cowslips, purple snake’s head fritillaries and bluebells. Listening to birdsong and the cathedral bells, we saw swallows – or possibly house martins – engaging in avian aerobatics above the meadows.
Work is slowly and joyfully progressing on our allotment. We’ve enjoyed meeting more of our neighbours and we’ve done lots of digging!
In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard’s Egg
A happy morning was spent in the warm sunshine with bubbles, bees, birds, butterflies and buns (hot cross!). Onion sets have been planted. The climbing frame is almost ready to be installed and I think that I have found a second-hand shed which we can collect in a few weeks’ time. We hope to plant some seeds over the Easter weekend.
I hope you are able to spend some time outside over this week – even if it’s just a few minutes – to look up and to listen.
For now the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers have appeared in the countryside; the season of singing has come, and the cooing of turtledoves is heard in our land. (Song of Songs 2:11)
Frogspawn in our local pond; Mrs Blackbird and Mr Blackbird gathering building materials from our garden; bright splashes of celandine by the roadside; the soundtrack of birdsong as I walk to collect Small Boy from school – Spring is here.
A spring is in my step. For the first time in a while, I laugh inside and feel like a carefree girl.
Today we (mostly I!) tried Wild Lent’s ‘Searching for spring’ activity in the garden. Yellow, pink, indigo, violet and green – the garden is waking up.
Small Boy found a ladybird and took a photo.
I’ve enjoyed taking photos this month as winter ends and spring begins.
Inspired by another family’s bird feeders, Mr Pilgrim ordered a ‘gift box’ from the RSPB and fixed our bird table. We have already had visits from a blue tit as well as a pigeon and a magpie (but I discount those!)
We are slowly making progress on the allotment.
Our carrot box from Grand-père is in place, we have chitted potatoes, bought seeds, and purchased a second-hand climbing frame from e-Bay!
We plan to turn the section of our garden where we grew courgettes last year into a wildflower area for bees and butterflies.
I’ve been eating oven-baked chilli and lime cashews with peanuts and roasted corn as as I write this! To celebrate Fair Trade Fortnight, I ordered some products from Liberation Nuts, a fair trade company I read about in the magazine from Shared Interest. They are very tasty!
I’m writing this in the afternoon as I’m turning the computer off in the evening as a way of fasting from electricity throughout Lent. But as I do this (and attempt some of the activities from Wild Lent), I will remember these words from a contributor to the Plastic Less Lent group on Facebook:
“The falling short is part of it!! It wouldn’t be a Lenten activity, if, at the end of it ( and during) we weren’t made aware of how much we fall short. Easter brings a message of grace and forgiveness – whew! So, do what you can – it won’t ever be enough, but that’s ok.”
Made all the better with the company of friends from faraway.
Travelling home from the allotment in the car, I spotted a brimstone flying up ahead of us. We found a place to park and I span around trying to catch site of it again – and I did! Small Boy and Mr Pilgrim saw it too. He (it’s likely to have been male) flew off over a hedge into a garden and we got back in the car and drove the rest of the way home.
And then we saw it again! (I expect it was the same one.) He flew into our front garden and then up the road.
Winter is over. The world is coming to life again once more.
Illness, an allergic reaction and stress meant our weekend didn’t go to plan. Yet, in the tiredness and tears, were some memorable moments of joy.
One of the reasons we bought our house (and not the one next door) is that the kitchen sink overlooks the garden. Washing dishes on Saturday morning, I caught sight of a blue tit splashing in our small bird bath.
We love blue tits in our house. Small Boy found me reading about birdsong and we discovered that blue tits tweet ‘see see choo choo’. We often pretend to be birds, bugs and sea creatures in our house and Small Boy enjoyed being a blue tit: ‘see see choo choo’.
(If you are interested in learning how to hide like an octopus, find food like a bee or hop like a frog, I recommend reading Howl Like a Wolf).
All four of us gathered by the windows and excitedly watched our garden guest bathe.
In the afternoon, we headed to our allotment. As we parked, we saw a small bird hopping on the grass (a red wing) and long-tailed tits were in the bare trees at the foot of our plot. Later, a robin drew near hoping for some worms (good news for us and the robin, Mr Pilgrim dug up lots!). Mr P threw one to the robin but the bird was too timid and the wise worm wriggled away. Probably for the best!
Little Miss got bored and kept declaring: ‘I want to go the library!’ Mr Pilgrim kept digging while the children enjoyed choosing books and I picked up my order of Fascism by Madeleine Allbright.
My Valentine’s present was A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson – all about bumblebees. They are fascinating little creatures and it’s a delight to read Dave Goulson’s humorous yet scientific (he’s a professor of biology) prose.
Lent is approaching and I’ve bought Wild Lent (full of outside activities to help us encounter God through creation). I’m also thinking about taking up one of the Living Lent challenges, organised by the Joint Public Issues Team.
The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.
(The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham)
I’ve been spring cleaning this week which always reminds me of Mole. Small Boy was an enthusiastic but not very skilled helper! It’s been a long winter; I’ve been feeling a bit ‘bluh’ since Christmas. But now the colder weather has gone, pockets of colour are emerging in the garden and we can spend sunny afternoons outside.
Last year, we joined the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and in February I discovered they had a bookable badger hide. Last night Mr P and I sat very still and very quietly behind a large glass window watching and waiting. First we saw two ducks, then two rats, then two rabbits…and then the main show began…one badger…followed by another…and then another. Nine in total. Beautiful creatures, eating noisily and oblivious to their audience.
Last summer, I described how in Ruth Valerio’s Just Living, there are seven themes of practical response with ecological concern the area where I had the most to grow. I re-read this blog post yesterday and was pleasantly surprised by how much I had grown.
And so to Ratty. Ratty in the Wind of the Willows is of course not a rat but a water vole. These are one of my favourite animals.
I am discovering more about my local river, the River Colne, through the River Colne Catchment Action Network and Watford in the Water. I used to think it was a canal (!) but now I am enjoying discovering more about this small river so it was exciting to read this week that water voles have been spotted there.
No Toad to complete the Wind in the Willows cast list but we did see a local frog!