the flood waters recede. After three days of solid rain, it seems to have stopped. For the first of February, Imbolc, Brigid’s day, the sun has come back. I have seen butterflies, violet bees and the first speedwell and bugle flowers.
The ditch that runs from the field above down past our woodpile is a cascade.
The first morning sun in months. Feels like that anyway.
Between the ditch and the stream, the ground is under water.
This ditch was too deep to wade through in rubber boots yesterday.
It runs parallel with the stream, then bends left through the hedge to join the stream.
This is where all the rain water ends up—in the Caillou and the culvert that carries it beneath the farm track.
The organised pheasant shoot seemed to finish at lunchtime on Thursday and since then, there has been minimal activity from the men with guns. The animals have come out of hiding, though the caravan of refugee pheasants never really got into the spirit of keeping their heads down. The hare was lolloping around yesterday evening, the pheasants set up a din after lights out, and again around midnight meaning, yes, they were still there, and there was a prowler. I hope it was a fox.
There are a lot of fox turds around, and martens’ so they haven’t all been exterminated, and we see the squirrels about too. Our red squirrels seem to have black tails. Apparently this happens often in these parts. The deer are around at night, having been daily visitors until the pheasant massacre began. We know they come round at night because they are gradually eating our apple trees.
Trixie has been on a private massacre of her own. She has caught and eaten a flock of voles, but these last few days, she has been off her vole. Or rather field mouse, her latest discovery. The last ones she has just dumped in front of the house and gone for a lie down. Yesterday she caught something, brought it into the veranda and let it go. It ran and hid under the wellies and she couldn’t be bothered pursuing the matter and asked to go outside again. I caught the little critter, which was completely undamaged, and put it outside in the woodpile where the killer won’t find it. It was the loveliest little thing, a baby shrew, silky grey fur like a mole, and it blinked its eyes as though it wasn’t used to daylight.
This lunchtime, we witnessed a most touching display from a couple of pheasants. As if they know the hunters aren’t around at the moment they have been wandering around in the meadow and along the hedge. We saw a hen pheasant running in a distracted sort of way along the hedge, stopping every few yards to peer about, looking for something/someone. Then the object of her desire came running across the meadow (pheasants only seem to fly as a last resort) and they were reunited. The hen leapt into the air and bounced about in delight (literally) like a flighty fifteen year-old. He rubbed himself against her when she stayed still long enough. And we think only human beings have those kind of reactions.
rain falls from low cloud
the air is green, winter waits
the earth is busy.
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.
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.
This is what I mean about hundreds of orchids. A bit of the meadow in front of the study window before the storm started. You can only see the pyramid orchids because they’re big enough for my camera to pick up, but there are dozens of bee orchids in there too.
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?
This cautionary tale (280 characters) is for Kat Myrman’s Twittering Tales. If you don’t know who the Groke is, you ought to. Go straight away to the bookshop and buy a copy of one of Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories.
Photo by Leirdal at Pixabay.com
The Groke sat so still her great bulk made not even a ripple on the lake’s surface. She had spat out the boat part but she still had terrible stomach ache. The juicy part inside was tasty enough, but the rubber waders and the fishing tackle were playing havoc with her digestion.
An extreme haibun (less than 55 words) for the NaPoWriMo prompt.
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,