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

Monday, 14 October 2013


It's surprising how fast you get used to something. All summer I've been aware of two young tawny owls hooting to each other across the valley just before dusk. It's lifted my heart, without fail. I didn't notice, though, that it was just one recently; I did notice, however, when the valley was silent for two late afternoons running; and then, beneath the ash trees in Simon's avenue, I found a dead tawny the second evening. I've no idea how he or she died: no mark; healthy-looking; fully-grown, I think, but young.

There had been shooting in a field above, but I doubt whether the guy concerned would have shot an owl and I couldn't in any case see a wound. 'Flew into a tree?' suggested TM; and I guess that's as good an explanation as any.

TM then told me about a real-life video clip he was shown on a course recently: a wide African plain, nothing as far as the eye could see in any direction, except one tree beneath which two lions were dozing. Into the frame bounded some kind of antelope. There were so many opportunities to avoid it – in fact it would have been hard not to avoid it – but the antelope bounded right into the tree trunk, and rebounded off it. ?? (The clip didn't show whether the antelope got away with it, by the way.)

I think there's a metaphor here. 

Anyway, I feel a small grief every single evening at the absence of owl-call. Another rip in the fabric of things.

On a brighter note, here is part of our bean harvest:

Our field beans – or are they pea beans? – have been a success the last 2 or 3 years running. Like the French beans that we grew this year, Cobra, they're hardy and prolific (unlike the cannellini, borlotti all bar one plant, flageolet and Neckarkonig, none of which survived). So last night we picked, podded and froze some winter supplies. They're full of protein, substantial mealy additions to casseroles and soups, and generally A Good Thing for vegans.

I opened up Matthew's polytunnel for him in the morning, and my reward was a big bag of huge tomatoes, which without a greenhouse or polytunnel we can't grow here without their rotting. I peeled and roasted them in olive oil, garlic and herbs, and then added them to a casserole of our garden produce – very satisfying.

The herb garden is still flowering – the odd bumblebee appreciating the blue borage flowers, the snapdragons and marigolds.

And I've succumbed to the robin visiting the courtyard again and put out the birdfeeders as of yesterday. Because you have to clean them to help avoid bird disease, I washed them in pure soap and hot water, with drops of essential oils of rosemary and lemon myrtle as anti-bacterials instead of a chemical one (if like me you use one of the green laundry liquids or powders, and are as frustrated as I get by the lack of 'clean' smell on a 30-degree wash, a few drops of lemon myrtle in the fabric conditioner drawer make a difference).

It takes roughly an hour before the tits and finches find the feeders each autumn. The woodpeckers take a day or two.

And I notice that a wren has made her home right next to the plaster Green Man mask above my garden-study barn door. More on this magical creature another time.

The winter wood's in. We'll be pressing the apples next weekend and freezing the juice. The pumpkins and sweetcorn are nearly ready. Samhain is coming – excuse for a harvest party, perhaps.

Oh and yes, we do definitely have badgers in the field. Joy. And over my dead body, as they say, will 'they' do anything to them.


  1. Watch those badgers, they'll be moving goalposts before you know it!


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