It’s repellent under there:
Once done, playing was irresistible.
I accidentally located the diphthongs and a tidy little apple: Æ Œ
Nettles, ivy, brambles, fat hen, groundsel, vetch, dandelion, bindweed, cleavers, chickweed, buttercup, shepherd’s purse, herb robert, black medick, scarlet pimpernel, speedwell, yellow archangel, ribwort plantain, daisy, cat’s ear, dock, couch grass, yorkshire fog, meadow grass, false oat grass.
It sounds lovely until you start digging them all out of your vegetable patch.
I’ve been re-reading After London by Richard Jefferies, which divides itself, like Gaul, into three parts: the long prologue which describes the reversion of England to wilderness; an account of the social regime which arises (after many generations) as a result, seen through the life of one family; and the quest of the protagonist, Felix Aquila.
The first part is a Victorian science fiction story in which London mysteriously fails, the population crashes, technology is forgotten, and coastal or climate changes cause the formation of an immense lake in the centre of southern England. A modern equivalent of this story would probably be an urban gothic dystopia, but Jefferies was a countryman and a naturalist. In his story, weeds seed themselves across formerly cultivated grounds, brambles race across roads and railways, and wild woodlands expand and re-establish themselves. Domesticated animals disappear or go feral, creating new breeds adapted for life in the wild, and humans live on the edge.
The middle (and for me less interesting) section of the novel envisages a semi-feudal society arising in England, and develops the curiously ineffectual main character. Pure science fiction returns when London makes its appearance during the final quest sequence, as Felix journeys across the Lake and into the toxic bog which has engulfed the great city. One might suspect that the story is an allegory of Jefferies’ own life, and this was how, in his heart, Jefferies experienced the living but stinking London of his day.
Forget the plot and characters, as Jefferies himself did, stopping his narrative with brutal abruptness as Felix turns for home. The weeds, the woods, the water, the weather, the fetid breath of London – these are at the heart of his imagining.
After contemplating the virtues of methane worms, home along a shifting unstable road beneath trees where night had already fallen, and out into an open world of lavender, pink, peach, dove grey, sage green and blue. Then the sky burst into rose and blue, while violent gusts shook the camera.
This gallery contains 12 photos.
Wednesday: I drove through a mizzle which, settling on the warm road, rose again in drifts and twirls of steam. Pause for a churchyard: (click for the gallery) The rain grew steadier.
I crept out at dead of night last night with a red torch (well supplied with these as I am an astronomer) and lurked, bent double, over the pond. And lo: at least five or six adult (common) newts.
The newts were aggregating in little clutches among the stalks and debris. I hope they had something constructive in mind… I risked a couple of flash photos, which didn’t bother them at all.
Yesterday I did some pond preening, removing some of an overgrowth of weed which masked the whole surface of my tiny water hole, while trying to leave enough cover and variety of plants to be useful to the inhabitants.
Today the disturbed sludge had settled, and I crept up delicately on my window into the watery microcosm. For once hope was instantly rewarded: there are at least two newts and possibly more stalking and swirling in the depths. And, for a moment, among the weeds and roots, I saw one of them doing his waggle dance.
Now, of course, I’m in horrible suspense, wondering how many eggs were in the weed I removed, and whether the laying has been disrupted by my interference. Will there be efts this year?
Bank holiday mayhem: the Sunday-only cyclists wobble along the road, overtaken by the serious riders in a big cycle event, traveling in skeins of twenty or thirty bikes, doing six mph uphill and 45 mph downhill. Around them, tourists driving cars try to overtake the bikes, but find no gaps in the continuous procession to pull into when traffic comes the other way. Look out for my wing mirror, chaps… The tourists slow down randomly to admire the view, occasionally stopping their cars (usually without indicating) to take a photo, oblivious to the fact that they are on a clearway and that the cyclists are now forced to pull out to pass them. Weaving through this clutter are gaggles of motorbikes, their riders grittily restraining their urge to do 90, and visibly cursing the rest of us.
It’s a good day for locals to stay home.
This gallery contains 8 photos.
Can’t remember when I last ate my sandwiches sitting in the sunshine by the duck pond. (click for the gallery)