I love this place with its layers of song

and the traces of criss-crossing hoof and paw

bird voices calling taking it in turns

to send echoes racing.


I love it as I love Redon colours

the tragic beauty of a Marc

intangible elusive

brushed with fingertips never seized

always the onlooker.


We think we own because we have measured

signed papers handed over cash.


Wind blows.


Sunlight stretches leaves unfurl

blossom scatters in the wind.

A shower patters, ringing wild garlic bells.

The blackbird looks at me with bright eye,

tugs at a worm.


I watch the world whisk by

in the flash of a white scut.

gogyohka for spring confinement

I took a lot of photos yesterday but the light was too strong and the colours came out lurid. Internet is beginning to get flaky here, erratic and extremely slow so I can’t upload the pictures anyway. This one will have to do for now, colours toned down to near natural.

looking east

all this light and growing

in the quiet of birdsong and a distant tractor

chicken-fussing and woodpeckers

we hold our breath

keeping things to ourselves


The deluge ended at the end of the afternoon and the sun came out briefly. I took some photos of the wet. Unfortunately they don’t do justice to the scale. They only show the fast-running water and the deep lakes of it. They don’t show the sound of boots sinking into water and mud at every step, nor that the ditches are too wide to jump across and too deep to wade across. Fierce weather! It’s raining again…


This is the water running down the ditch outside the barn,


spilling over into the path that leads down to the bottoms


into another very fast-flowing ditch

full ditch

along the willows.


The stream stayed within its banks at this point though it has carried away the dam made when the woodpecker’s tree was blown down. Just a part of the trunk is left.

dam gone

There is now no culvert. The tufts of sedge mark where the path should cross the stream, which now flows straight over and cascades down the other side.

Caillou full

Between the ditch and the stream a lake is forming. Too deep to wade across in places.



more waterland

It’s a lovely natural milieu, but it won’t stay like this. The farmers upstream will have dammed up the source of the stream and it will dry up completely if the summer is as dry as last year. There won’t be a drop of drinking water for the wildlife, nothing for the trees. The frogs will do whatever frogs do when their water source dries up, and the ducklings, well, I don’t know what will happen to them.

There are natural events and environments.  Sometimes they get a bit out of hand, like at the moment, but everything goes back into its bed eventually.  The willows were planted along the bottoms almost a hundred years ago because there is always water there. Except that often nowadays, when the maize or the sugar beet takes priority, there isn’t. It’s when we tamper with things that lasting damage occurs. I’m hoping for at least a bit of rain over the summer.




Anti-social (owl) behaviour

I thought I’d post this anecdote, just passing on information like amateur naturalists do.

When we arrived in this house, the roof beams of the porch were festooned in tin foil strips. Logically, you’d say it was to stop birds nesting there, but since the old folk who had lived here were nature lovers that didn’t seem very likely. Shortly after we moved in something large and angry ripped off  most of the tin foil and chucked it on the ground. Owl we said and thought no more of it.

For the last few mornings we have noticed that the table out on the porch has been awash in a cloudy liquid, as if someone had thrown a bucket of dirty water over it. There has been no rain lately so it wasn’t that. This morning the pool of liquid was like diluted white paint, splashed all over the table and the floor.

I finally realised that the culprit is an owl, possibly the same as the one that sits on the half-open shutters over the bedroom window at night and dumps pellets onto the window frame. Imagine something the size of a cat peeing paint from a great height and you understand why placid, nature-loving Georgette hung tin foil up in the beams to scare the buggers away!

Reasons to be cheerful

Small things to feel cheered by:

we got internet back this morning and the problem is apparently close to being solved;

panic over about not being able to send important docs electronically, just slipped in under the wire;

the youngest’s on-going drama of living on her own far away and finding herself locked out of things like cash flow in now in the responsible hands of our bank person;

the doctor’s secretary (who is a nutter) actually agreed to ask the doctor to renew my annual vitamin D prescription without insisting I make an appointment;

the empty nest is going to be visited for a few days by one of the fledglings;

and a magical moment—when I let Finbar out for his early morning pee, a hind and her two young ones were grazing in the meadow in front of the house.



Through morning mist hanging grey

and faintly shimmering, I

watch the meadow where a shape,

rain-blurred and russet-brown stirs

then another, then three—hind

and her twins cropping the grass,

the only sound falling rain.




I needed some thyme for the salad this lunchtime and thought I’d snip some from the bush in the ground rather than from the  pots. I found an entire black and green whipsnake skin wound around the thyme, behind the pots and disappearing into a crack in the wall. I pulled it all out—exactly four feet of sloughed snake skin.

I suspected a whipsnake lives under the house, having seen one zipping under the walls several times, and while I was measuring the skin, one of its children popped out to have a look, so I guess I was right.

The old editor posts tiny pics…