Alien Urns, or the sordid secrets of Mother Nature

I’m posting this just to share the skin-crawling sensation we’re feeling. If you’re of a squeamish disposition, don’t look at the photo.

Among the useless rubbish in the barn, husband found the previous owner’s besace, the bag he used when he was out on patrol. We learned from several neighbours that old André was not a hunter, put up barbed wire to keep them out, was a bit of an ecolo and liked the wildlife. It has earned him a mitigated memory, but endeared him to me. Anyway, husband found an old leather bag of his and thought it might be useful for putting his whetting stone in and all the other bits and pieces he has to have about his person when he’s scything.

He took the bag out of the barn, cleaned it up and hung it up on the porch near the wood pile. And forgot about it. yesterday, he remembered it. Opened it, and this is what he found on the underside of the flap.

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A mud dauber wasp had been busy over the summer and constructed these alien objects like mud urns each about an inch long, with the remains of a wasp pupa inside. There is something really creepy about these things. Maybe it’s the association with Alien but nobody so far has volunteered to clean the bag up.

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Ninnie

Today is world otter day. I don’t know any otters, but this little cat, daft as a brush, a sandwich short of a picnic, bonkers, batty and totally à l’ouest as we say over here, is as sweet as any sea otter.

ninnie right way

#Three Line Tales: And the result is…yes!

In the light of Ireland’s abortion referendum on Saturday, there can be only one story behind this photo—Sonya’s Three Line Tales photo prompt.

photo by Julian Lozano via Unsplash

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Night falls on the sport’s field where the campaigners for change wait with bated breath for the result of the referendum to appear on the big screen, the referendum that will decide whether the country is prepared to take women’s rights seriously.

They wait with the fear in their guts that the power of the priest and the over-bearing weight of tradition will screw a ‘no’ vote out of the vast majority of the rural population.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the anguish of waiting is over, and the result flashes up on the screen—yes!

En promenade with Trixie

Trixie is not the kind of cat that shows much interest in people. She is very vocal, but that’s telling people what she wants, not an attempt at meaningful conversation. The only time she was known to allow anyone to pick her up and not protest was when she was an abandoned kitten and was looking for a home daft enough to take her in. Her behaviour has changed quite a lot since we’ve been here. Not that she purrs or sits on your lap or anything demeaning like that, but she has developed a taste for going walkies. Every afternoon she comes with me, or me and Finbar on a stroll around the property. It’s two hectares so it makes a reasonable stroll for a cat.

I set off down towards the stream, and Trixie follows.

Trixie begins

She knows the path

She knows the routine

We meet one of the noisy critters that chuckles all night. It thinks we can’t see it, but the water in this bit of the ditch is only about half an inch deep.

Frog

Come on Trixie

We inspect the deer damage. This is supposed to be what happens when they rub their horns against trees, but since they do it systematically to the young saplings, I wonder if it’s not that they are eating the bark.

Deer damage

Trixie takes the lead along the hedge. She inspects the animal runs while I take pics of the orchids.

Trixie ahead

There are only a few serapias in our meadow, but the one at the other side of the hedge has masses of them. This one appears to have a bee stuck in it.

Sarapia orchid

There are hundreds of bee orchids

Bee orchids

and a big clump of these that look like birds’ nest orchids, but since they are rare and grow mainly in pine woods, I wouldn’t swear to it.

Birds' nest orchids

Looking across to the house. The pink flower is a pyramid orchid of which there are hundreds. We’ve noticed that the people round here leave these orchids standing when they mow their lawns. I wonder if there isn’t some local legend about them.

Meadow high

A very old blackthorn with sloe berries forming

very old blackthorn

Fig and walnut trees in the patch that was the old kitchen garden

Fig and walnut

A bit of the massive vine that we are liberating from the brambles

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The next section is where the grass snake lives and I don’t like to hang about. It is very large and it hisses. Then there are the oak tree where squirrels live and both Trixie and Finbar are very keen to get at, so I carry Trixie, protesting vociferously until we get to the poplars and the black locust tree.

Home again

Home again.

More poo and percussion

To get back to poo. On several occasions I have seen bushy-tailed critters about the size of a cat and thought they must be stoats even though they are rather bigger, bushier and have bigger ears than your average stoat. We don’t have pine martens because there aren’t any pine trees, but there is a lot of poo left on the parapet by the side of the road where it crosses the stream, and that is a feature of martens and not stoats. The poo is often full of cherry stones which isn’t really a stoat thing either.

Today I learned that there are two kinds of marten—the pine marten and the stone marten. Different habitat, slightly different colouring, and I recognised my bushy-tailed friends. Looking for a you tube video, I found this, and was reminded of the beast in the culvert, that ate dead voles, dog biscuit and took a potato to play with, and I knew I had discovered who the neighbours are.

 

 

Other interesting discoveries, the bird that makes the gentle poo poo poo noise (poo again) is the hoopoe. I see them often now on the roof and round the front of the house.

 

and what I thought was a night bird  or an electrical noise of some kind is in fact a midwife toad.

 

While getting this post together, I was disturbed by a knocking coming from the attic just over my head. The cats were in the barn and don’t generally knock anyway, so I went up to have a look. The knocking stopped and looking through one of the many holes in a shutter saw the cause hopping about in the grass down below.

It’s all go here, isn’t it?

 

Haibun: This place

An extreme haibun (less than 55 words) for the NaPoWriMo prompt.

Looking east

Here is green, stalk and leaf, the bright splash of flower heads, a jay’s blue wing feathers, and layers of sun like honey on a wafer. Here, trees bow, breeze-blown, spreading unfurled flags of many nations, speaking myriad tongues to the water.

 

Noise is bird-babble,

water trickle where ducks splash,

leaf-whisper.

 

Spring flowers

Spring is here and the vegetation is shooting. The deer are about again during daylight hours, and the hares, briefly—it is March after all. We see rabbits in the early morning and stoats and weasels. The drainage ditch that runs parallel to the stream is full of running water that drains down from the fields above the house and from the pond in the next field. So we now have frogs too. This would have been my idea of heaven when I was a child. It’s hard to believe that I am living it now.

This afternoon, when the showers were over, I took some photos of the wildflowers I am learning about, and discovering that some of them are quite rare, like these gorgeous wild tulips growing on the bank of the stream.

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and this stuff, that I thought was some kind of tulip is the lizard orchid. It’s not common, but we seem to have more than our fair share. These leaves that last over the winter will die back when the flower spike grows.

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The pulmonaria (lungwort) is still flowering,

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and in the ditch, the first buttercups are appearing.

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I came across the Clandestine, the weird parasitic plant that grows out of the willow and alder roots last March and I’m pleased it’s back again.

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The Euphorbia is already tall beneath the alders along the stream bank.

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The wild plum blossom has all but fallen now,

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but the dandelions make up for it in colour.

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