Author Archives: willturnstone

Starry night?

 

bluemoon

A London night sky.

AS we in the northern hemisphere enter Advent and the darker days of winter, here is a thought-provoking article about light pollution, dark skies, astronomy, and being human and humble creatures. And what we miss through our obsessive use of street lighting. Read and ponder. Would the wise men have seen the Christmas star today?

Crossing paths

Mrs_Tiggy-Winkle,_Clothes_horse (1)

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!

 

An un wormish worm.

Slow-worm-close

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.

 

 

Not from the supermarket

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!

Spring and Fall.

 

mistletoe-oxon2-640x481

Spring and Fall

by Gerald Manley Hopkins

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.