I was not best pleased to find the hosepipe all rolled up and disconnected when I arrived at the garden. The pump is temperamental, the hose likewise, and reassembling it all takes longer than it should. Perhaps we need a few more connectors.
Well, I was feeling as temperamental as the equipment when, on my knees, I caught site of this damsel fly drying its new wings beside the river. I would never have seen it, just walking by. I even had chance to grab the phone from my coat and snap! These creatures do not sit still for long once the new life is surging through their veins, so I was grateful to have had a good look and to be able to share it with you.
But Cerura vinula – it almost sounds like a scream! The first the adults knew about them was a screaming 5 year old, running to her mother, pointing to her chest, where 2 impressive caterpillars were firmly attached to her teeshirt.
Margaret had been hiding in the osier bed, and the caterpillars must have climbed on board from there. Perhaps they thought the pink shirt looked tasty.
Well, once the adults had established that the creatures were harmless to children the girls were able to enjoy them. Such a big caterpillar in a small palm, and such startling colour pattern. ideal camouflage among the leaves.
The adult is called a puss moth, but the caterpillar with its sinister forked tail and little hump is no sort of kitten at all.
The vine stem hangs in our bathroom; I was about to give it a coat of linseed oil when I noticed that a creature had taken up temporary residence, and left the plume moth in peace. How did it know where it would best be camouflaged?
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.)
I probably should not take my mobile phone to church on a Sunday, though 90% of the time I remember to silence it – and then forget to turn the rings on again afterwards, so receive no messages.
However, the gadget serves to record, once in a while, the glories of what I might otherwise miss. This third-rate photo just gives the impression of scarlet pimpernel and purple grass heads taking over some bare soil at the top of the hill. Almost an abstract.
Lovely enough to say, ‘Good Morning Life, and all things glad and beautiful.’ (WH Davies).
Next day, somewhat dispiritedly riding home in the rain, I spotted maybe a hundred starlings, adults and juveniles, enjoying the downpour because it was bringing worms and leatherjackets to the surface of the park. Would I have noticed them if they’d been quiet? Maybe not, but they are incapable of staying quiet! ‘Good Morning Life, and all things glad and beautiful.’
I have been trimming the hedge of ivy that has grown over the top of the garden wall, hoping to bring light to the apple trees and vine. That hedge held at least three birds’ nests: two blackbirds’ and a robins’, the latter dry as a bone and all concealed until the loppers passed by.
Less welcome were the many snails, resting up till the weather favours them again; they’ve been busy all through November and December until this cold spell set in. There were hibernating aphid and other pests, but my companion knew what to do with them. One of last year’s tenants, the robin, was keeping a very close eye on what was uncovered, and snapped up more than a few inconsidered trifles.