from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Sunday, 17 July 2011

notes from the courtyard

There's not a lot more satisfying than eating one's own veg. So today's Sunday lunch (a rare event in this household):  roast new potatoes in olive oil (yes haven't found a local organic veg oil yet, and our neighbouring smallholder sells organic Palestinian olive oil), huge baked onions, baked fat red garlic, mangetout peas and the first broad beans, carrot thinnings, cavallo nero kale (the dark pointy one); and foraged wild sorrel and wild 'fat hen'. Would have added plate-sized cep mushrooms from the woods but the mice got there first. Did add a quorn roast, bought. 


 (Am cheating: this photo's from my last cottage, three years ago – had 100+ globe artichokes there, and haven't managed to get any to thrive here; and nor are our courgettes or French beans anything like at this stage yet. We won't talk about my sweet peas. Instead I'll say how pleased I was to find corn marigolds in the next door field.)

The courtyard's been chattering with rain. Yesterday, to my distress, the cat brought in one of our young great tits, which died in my hands. I like all animals but I'd never keep a cat for that reason (she belongs to my partner's daughter). Is it 10,000,000 songbirds that die at the teeth of cats each year in GB? (Not to mention all those intensively-farmed animals that come in tins.)

This morning I sat by the open French doors from the kitchen into the courtyard, watching the birds, a Bach sonata quietly on the CD player. The other 15 or so great tits were doing their acrobatic stuff : abseiling up the quarryface (normally there's a trickle of water there from which they drink but not this summer), shimmying up the bean poles, spiralling round the 'shepherd's crook' birdfeeder pole with one wing out like ballerinas, jettisoning themselves from the tips of the azalea to the roots, having great tit tiffs over the peanuts, and even taking a fragranced shower, deliberately shaking the wet leaves of the lemon verbena over themselves and flurrying their feathers; all the time swiveling their heads swiftly from side-to-side like those nodding dogs you used to get in car rear windows (and do once again, I see, presumably ironically).

Above us, wings scooped back to hold still against the wind, was one of the buzzards, tutelary spirit of the valley.

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