Can't get much more beautiful than that, can you?
TM has two speeds: 'up-and-at-'em-in-full-pelt', and 'stop'. I discovered on Friday here by the O Brook that the bluebells call forth a 3rd speed: SLOW. What bliss to stroll through the bluebells!
Meantime in the courtyard the magpies, whose chattering flirtatious ways with each other are quite endearing, are beginning to drive me nuts – each one of the pair sits on a different roof, but they do a finely-tuned double-act policing the area, swooping in to see off all the other birds from the feeder, and are especially officious to the spotted woodpecker. Yesterday they saw off a shyer green woodpecker from the wall, too. I fear for the little family of bluetits in the nesting box in the oak tree where the magpies routinely hang out – tasty snack for magpies, a hatchling.
A little less welcome again is the young rat who's been appearing, quite boldly, shinnying up the birdtable post - even when we both plus cat plus dog are sitting in the courtyard metres away. (Cat not interested, despite being a hunter; dog too dozy to notice.) I have to say it's a cute glossy young thing with its bright curious eyes.
I try hard not to demonise any other animate being. I remember being surprised at the ripple of mass hysteria that ran through the room at a workshop I was giving in a spiritual centre a few years ago when someone mentioned seeing a rat by the compost bins several hundred yards away. AND? – I asked them to write a piece on their Inner Rat, to try and locate the fear.
It's said there's a rat within yards of every single one of us in the UK - I call it our Shadow. Yes, I know rats can carry disease. Some rats, some disease. The appearance of a rat, especially way out in the sticks as we are, doesn't automatically mean you're going to succumb to bubonic plague.
We learned how to co-habit with hornets – very successfully (see http://roselle-angwin.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/how-to-love-hornets.html and another post, 11 June 2012), and I learned a lot I didn't know about them by watching and reading.
I haven't quite come to terms with living with slugs, given that they destroy such a quantity of our food here, into which we, and especially TM, have invested so much time and energy; but I remind myself that they too have a place in the ecosystem.
Yesterday, on Gardener's Question Time, someone asked whether she shouldn't be quite so gleeful in treading on snails, in case they had a role on the planet. Well er yes (like everything): they're a part of the ecosystem. In this case, dealing with waste (the panel mentioned that bit) and providing food for frogs, toads, blackbirds, thrushes and hedgehogs, plus buzzards, badgers and some other mammals (they didn't mention that). Slugs, too, of course; but it's heartbreaking sometimes to see the huge hole they make in our annual harvest.
We've spent a fortune on slug collars (a bit effective), copper ties (not much), slug deterrents made from sheepswool (worked a little but not much) and a lot of energy cutting and scattering thistles (fine till they wilt), and surrounding the plants with silver sand, (works for a week or two; not sure if long term it affects the Ph).
Haven't resolved that for myself; having resisted killing them over several years, and having lost maybe half our crop over and over, I've decided to duck out and be a coward, and let TM apply ferrous sulphate, which will kill them but is not toxic to anything else.
Rats? Still working on that one. I don't mind their being in the field, but the courtyard and the birdtable are too close to home. I've just bought some solar-powered sonar deterrents; they make a terrible buzz which luckily doesn't seem to affect our animals or the birds (and hopefully not the plants!). I'll report back.
On a more positive note, I'm eating the first globe artichokes. Joy! AND they have many fine healthful properties. And we've dug the first new potatoes...
And news: after 5 enquiries in one week alone, I'm bringing my 350-page creative writing handbook, Writing the Bright Moment, back into print. Any day now. You'll be able to buy it, should you wish to, from the Paypal button over there to the right, as before. Seems it does what it says on the tin: gives writers some inspiration and guidance (and quite a lot of exercises).