Life has been too busy to harvest these container grown spuds until today, in time for Hallowe’en supper, baked in the oven with either ratatouille or pumpkin soup. But the rather fussy grandson will have to be told they are ‘jacket potatoes’, not ‘baked’.
The triangle of brambles and nettles near our house belongs to an absentee landlord who has tried twice to get permission to build on it. On Sunday morning, as Mrs t and I were walking home from church, something crossed our path. Just an impression at the corner of my eye: I thought at first it was a crow, but it did not take off, and was not to be seen as we drew abreast. It was not a rat or a cat, nor yet a squirrel or small dog.
Finally I realised that it could only be a hedgehog. She was out rather late, at nine o’clock in the morning, but it was the day the clocks went back. My neighbour will be pleased, and so will my hedgehogophile daughter!
Let’s hope the landlord does not get concerned enough about his property to clear the brambles. Thirty years ago, I was walking about 20m away from this site with my 2 daughters then aged about 4 and 6, when we heard a distressful sound from the nearby wasteland, and on squeezing through the rickety gate, we found a square hole, maybe 120cm deep, cut by the archaeologists who had inspected the site before building was allowed to begin.
At the bottom of the hole were two trapped adolescent hedgehogs. It did not take long to nip home to gather up a cardboard box, ring their school, and arrange for the creatures to be taken there and released next to the wooded corner of the grounds.
Maybe that – and Beatrix Potter – explains the eldest’s love of spiky little creatures!
There was a badly abused tree in my daughter’s garden; there was no chance of its growing straight or shapely ever again, so out it had to come. I was uncovering the roots so that I could slice and saw and twist and shake until it all came tumbling down.
Before that happened, I unearthed a fat worm about 15 cm long. It lay as if dead then began to move in a most unwormish way. It was a slow worm, my favourite British reptile, one of this year’s brood. I hope it managed to find shelter, as it must be near hibernation time.
My phone had drained its battery, so here’s a photo from salted m8 on Wikipedia.
You can’t make cole slaw without cabbage, so to the local supermarket or the local farmers’ market at the Goods Shed? Almost equidistant, and on this occasion I had to pass the shed first, and before it got too busy with out-of-towners.
This cabbage’s stalk had not dried out, it was not wrapped to death in plastic, and had most of its rosette of outer leaves. Beautiful. Worth buying, worth a snap, and worth sharing.
Dessert apple and grated ginger lift the cole slaw, but the best start is a good cabbage!
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
The mistletoe-laden trees above are in the meadows at Oxford, where Hopkins studied. His poem addresses the mysteries of life and death, both of which our hearts have heard of, our ghosts (our souls) have guessed at. We are born to die, and this world is very dear, too good we often feel, to leave. Let’s spare a sigh, but nonetheless be grateful for each day.
Today in Rome Pope Francis will declare John Henry Cardinal Newman a saint of the Catholic Church, an English saint who was not a martyr but a hard-working priest and theologian. He tended the sick during epidemics in Birmingham as well as founding schools and Oratories and defending the faith through fearless enquiry.
All that and he found time to write novels, including Loss and Gain, The Story of a Convert. In the early pages he has these two contrasting passages about a familiar country walk. Draw your own conclusions! And enjoy your next walk, even if it’s the walk to work or to the bus stop.
“When we ourselves were young, we once on a time walked on a hot summer-day from Oxford to Newington—a dull road, as any one who has gone it knows; yet it was new to us; and we protest to you, reader, believe it or not, laugh or not, as you will, to us it seemed on that occasion quite touchingly beautiful; and a soft melancholy came over us, of which the shadows fall even now, when we look back on that dusty, weary journey. And why? because every object which met us was unknown and full of mystery. A tree or two in the distance seemed the beginning of a great wood, or park, stretching endlessly; a hill implied a vale beyond, with that vale’s history; the bye-lanes, with their green hedges, wound and vanished, yet were not lost to the imagination. Such was our first journey; but when we had gone it several times, the mind refused to act, the scene ceased to enchant, stern reality alone remained; and we thought it one of the most tiresome, odious roads we ever had occasion to traverse.”
“”People call this country ugly, and perhaps it is; but whether I am used to it or no, I always am pleased with it. The lights are always new; and thus the landscape, if it deserves the name, is always presented in a new dress. I have known Shotover there take the most opposite hues, sometimes purple, sometimes a bright saffron or tawny orange.” Here he stopped.
With all that’s been going on, this story was forgotten till Mme Frog jogged my memory. One evening last week, my daughter went down to empty the kitchen bin onto the compost heap.
Something scurried across her feet. ‘Oh no! a rat!’ she thought, but it didn’t run across the garden like that. And it had spikes: a hedgehog! Our neighbour, who cut a hedgehog hole in his new fence, will be mighty pleased. So was Mrs T, who would like to see an end to slimy slugs in her garden.
Unfortunately Mrs Tiggywinkle did not stop around for a photo-call.