Category Archives: Animal

Generations

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What we know and what we don’t know about our families.

Margaret Forster exercised both her historical and creative imaginations to investigate her own female line, partly for pure story, partly for the whole mother-and-daughter commitment thing, and partly as an analysis of how women’s lives worked in the past and how they work now.  The result is sobering and tantalising.

I thought of the Mitford sisters’ lives, outwardly a dramatic contrast.  Forster’s mother and her sisters lived through the same decades, but as northern working women their lives could scarcely have seemed more different.  Except, of course, for their shared preoccupations with marriage, illicit sexual relations, and the question of balancing income, personal fulfilment and childbearing.  And they all had their secrets.

The secrets seemed particularly onerous for Forster’s mother and grandmother.  And exceptionally well-kept.  There is a large, secret-shaped space in their lives, but what is inside it Margaret Forster will never, never know.

Unnatural

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It seems unnatural:  sunshine on a bank holiday weekend.

Remedial for grumpiness

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There was a certain amount of complaining going on today.  I grumped round the grass with a struggling mower for the third time in a week (that’s how bad it was) and grumped at the slugs that have had a go at the baby rudbeckia.  There was also a fair bit of Flufferscussing as by some inspiration she managed to deposit in any doorway I was about to walk through.  She did some cussing of her own as I refused to let her sit on the sofa.

By the pond I found this poor tiny relic.  Surely not a victim of predation, as even its little paws are still attached; maybe caught out by the icy weather we had a few weeks ago, and freeze-dried on its way to the water?

I settled for half an hour on the paving, pretending to be a tree stump, and watching for little plips and swirls.

The more fortunate newts were fossicking about; always difficult to know how many, but I saw one with a pale spine sprinkled with freckles, two with yellow or cream stripes all down their backs, one olive brown with leopard spots, one plain olive with a fine dark dorsal stripe, and one almost black and nearly invisible, plus a couple of juveniles.

Newts don’t seem to have red-eye problem so much as golden eye problem when the light reflects.

This is not what newts are meant to do.  Assuming it was another corpse, I scooped it out, upon which it leapt into action and squiggled off my palm.  If not moribund, it must be one of Nature’s eccentrics.

I ought to be feeling five years younger

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and possibly five pounds lighter, but at present it’s more a case of inward niggles, wondering which typo or howler has made it through the proof-reading.  There has to be at least one. Also worrying slightly about the jokes.

Always risky, jokes.  But once I had had the eating weasels rule pointed out to me, the Epistle of Barnabas just had to go in.  And once the Epistle of Barnabas was in, one might as well have Warwick the Kingmaker as well (“Are you Edmund Mortimer?  If not, have you got him?”)  And then somehow The Sorrows of Werther crept into the general stirabout.

It may have been injudicious.  I carefully remind myself:  who cares what THEY think?

Shopping

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I suppose one might want a giant supermarket one day … so I went to find it, just in case.  (Click an image for the gallery)

Legging it

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(although rather slowly) across Salisbury to the station, where a choice presented itself:  wait perishing on the platform, or sit in the waiting room, which smelled of … well … railway waiting room.

With feet placed in the sunshine, outside was tolerable, until a train came and paused for fifteen minutes with its engine roaring.  How many decibels?  Too many in a semi-confined space.  Here it is seen through the iron cage

some of which rose to involve itself in other parts of the ironwork.  The pillars ranged away down the platform.

My countrypeople will be mildly surprised to hear that our trains ran to schedule and, when we arrived, lunch proceeded with little delay.  The view was ugly except for the magisterial march of showers along the sky.

A little more nest building, and back to the station, where our trains were once more on time.  And legging it (rather slowly) across Salisbury, up the hill and into the nest.

Treacle

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I took the car to pick up a bag of coal and then on to stretch its legs. The roads were still dry but the sky was thickening steadily.  Close observers will note that I clung to the car’s interior.

The land was bleached of its colour by the cold and darkened to dun by the flattened light.

“This season’s daffodil, she never hears …”

and it’s all been one too many even for the Christmas rose.  As for the primroses, the images of their shrivelled and blighted flowers are just too sad.

Keeping water liquid for the birds required multiple visits with jugs of hot water.  Seagulls came down in a mob on the breadcrumbs, and were so famished that they wouldn’t fly away until I was standing among them, able to physically touch them.  Hitchcock, anyone?

The small garden birds did have time for a bite and a drink before dry hard snow began to sweep in, blown hissing down the road like sand, in vicious gusts.  It was a relief to know all the nearestsanddearests were in their respective residences.

Currently working from my old laptop, as slow as treacle (and cold treacle at that).  Buffeting and banging outside, and the sound of sleetiness; not sure what will be lying tomorrow, but it won’t be cosy.