We were hanging the bat box at L’Arche’s Glebe garden in Canterbury, and to do that Vince had to saw through two thin branches. I was footing the ladder, keeping still and keeping him safe.
Drips fell onto my hand as he handed down one of the branches: no rain, this was sap, the sycamore’s lifeblood. This is an invasive maple, and remembering the maple syrup farm I once visited in a Canadian March, I licked my hand. It was sweet!
I don’t think we are about to start tapping the sycamores, but Vincent recalled tasting birch syrup, and very tasty that was, he said.
An old cherry orchard near Canterbury in early Spring.
The parent blue tits (or titmice) are very busy, right outside the kitchen window, ferrying many insect morsels to their brood. Mrs Turnstone, great provider as she is, appreciates their devotion.
A woodmouse appeared, scurrying across the garden path at 3.30 p.m; what crumbs did she discover under the garden table?
Finally, a flittermouse, a pipistrelle bat, flew across the front of the house, picking up flying insects that had eluded the blue tits.
I trust Mrs Tittlemouse is as well housed as usual since I saw two foxes going about their business the other night; one peeled off to the left of our house, its mate went to investigate the remains of the student party to our right.
Mrs Turnstone sees their presence as a clinching argument against rescuing a couple of battery hens!
Anticipating Saint John’s Eve, Mrs T and I welcomed NAIB2 and Harry to al fresco lunch under the vine. John may have died because of a drunken promise at a debauched feast; this was a more decorous affair. We did eat lamb in his honour, marinaded in our home-made wild garlic pesto from the Lake District, (see the post, ‘First Forage) with garden herbs, mustard and more (cultivated) garlic, all wrapped in vine leaves to keep it tender.
As evening finally fell, I splashed the bath water onto the plants in pots and thin soil round the house and garden. A warning chuck from a blackbird suggests they are nesting, or at least roosting, in the ivy again. On the way up Abbot’s Hill to Church this morning we had found a greenfinches’ nest fallen from a pine tree, with a blind, half-fledged chick still crawling back into it. The nest was a beautifully crafted bowl of mosses and feathers; the baby doomed; a black cat was watching from the garden wall, an ants’ nest active nearby. Had puss killed the woodmouse a few yards away that the ants were already swarming over?
But just now the pipistrelles were flitting around, snapping up the moths around the lamppost at the corner of the garden. There were plenty of insects at ground level, too, ants, little beetles and bugs, and the spiders were getting active. The snails and slugs were wise not to be out, as Mrs T is at odds with them for eating her new thyme plant. Perhaps she dug it in too close to the hosta, which they’d reduced to a tatter overnight last week. They would be wise to fast for a week or two and lull Mrs T into a false sense of security.