Dragons in the House

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I’ve never known that before, said Mrs T at day’s end, ‘A dragonfly in the house.’ A few hours before we had caught a frantic red one using a glass and postcard, a method that seems to prevent harm to minibeasts trapped indoors.

What Mrs T did not know was that there was another dragonfly, a blue one, just above her head. This one was sleepy; after all, it was dark outside and dragonflies are all eyes! So sleepy was it that it walked onto my finger, gripping tight with those six strong feet. I passed it over to Mrs T’s index finger where it sat until we let it outside. It sat on the window for at least two hours, when I went to bed.

Two dragonflies in the house on one day, and one gentle enough to sit on fingers so we could admire it properly. Was that not a good day? (Sorry for a poor quality photo, taken on an old phone.)

 

Along the Thames

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It was Patrick’s funeral that brought me to Teddington, and I had time on my hands between the end of the gathering  and meeting George for dinner.  Time enough for a walk down the Thames to Richmond.

Here the river path is on the right bank, but there was a footbridge at the end of Ferry Road to see me across. A good hour’s walk down to the railway with no bridges between, though I was tempted to take the ferry across to Twickenham about halfway along. Just for the fun of a ferry, you understand, not to avoid the walk!

It was good to see so many people and dogs enjoying the fine weather, walking and cycling; there were joggers as well, but do they enjoy the scenery or just the sense of achievement when they have shorn a half-second from their pb for each kilometre, despite the presence of happy wanderers along their course? Some children were enjoying the last days of summer, but there were teenagers in town already in uniform –

Shades of the prison-house begin to close

Upon the growing Boy,

But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,

He sees it in his joy.

William Wordsworth: Intimations of immortality from recollections of early childhood

London’s not-quite countryside must remain as a blessing to local people; it is too much on the flood plain to be built upon or to go under the plough. Much of the path was shaded by mature trees and scrub. There would be no chance of a horse-drawn barge making its way along here today, as came to Mr Toad’s rescue in the  Wind in the Willows, but motor boats and kayaks were making full use of the river.

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Close to Richmond town lies a meadow, still used to graze cattle, including a few Belted Galloways and their crossbred offspring. If I had a country estate it would be Belted Galloways that would add their grace to the prospects. As well as being good looking, they also seem to tolerate people walking by.

But let’s hope and pray that  those I passed that day will not resist the ‘Intimations of immortality’ that come their way, day by day, and that school does not feel too much of a prison house, and that they are enlightened there.

MB

Big brave frog

Around three thirty a few noisy light aircraft flew over.

A frog in the pond began croaking louder and louder. In defiance? Mistaking the planes for fellow frogs? There was another one answering him from the compost heap. And this in August, well outside the mating season.

 

Foraging: Polish Style

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Where have I been all this time? Partly travelling across Europe: France, Belgium, Germany, Poland. We noticed one thing in common between Polish and British railways: the fruit trees beside the tracks, convenient for the railway workers’ rest huts. These plums were somewhere in Western Poland, between the border and Warsaw. At centre-right, in the opening between the trees, is the silhouette (take my word for it) of one of three young men foraging them.

I warmed to Poland at once!

And their plums are very tasty.

 

Gathering nuts in July

 

Our local Saint Mildred, a Saxon princess who had a continental education and rejected the St_Mildred,_Preston_next_Wingham,_Kent_-_Window_-_geograph.org.uk_-_325439 (1)idea of a political marriage to become a nun, had her feast this week. She reminds me to harvest the walnuts.

It’s harvest time because right now they  have not yet grown their woody shells inside those green carapaces. Off the tree they come to get pricked all over with a fork, then left to steep in brine for a few days before drying off for a few days more.

The juice has stained my fingers to the complexion of a chain-smoker, if only for a few days. But when the nuts are fully dry for pickling they will be as black as the habits of the Benedictine Sisters who live in Saint Mildred’s Abbey at Minster-walnutsgreenin-Thanet. By Christmas the nuts will be sweet-and-sour and spicy.

Only the first and third of those adjectives apply to the sisters at Minster!

Happy foraging!

Saint Mildred from a window at Preston-next-Wingham, Kent.  John Salmon