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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A little borrowed soil.......

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This is a view of the gardens in our street. It's a long row of houses which were built for local coalminers in the 1880s. There was no pebble-dashing then.... or conservatories, just modest little brick houses with the barest of amenities. At the bottom of the gardens, where the Poplar trees are, was the railway line which ran from Bishop Auckland to Durham. The railway line closed in the 1960s and is now a footpath and cycle route, and is very popular.

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This is the same view when there was a beautiful hoar frost (and an ugly satelite dish!).

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Here is our little borrowed patch of land. I say 'borrowed' because it is never truly ours. In fact I find it comforting to think of all the people who enjoyed (or possibly didn't) this garden for the last 130 years and will continue to do so for however long the house remains standing. It gives a sense of continuity.

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..... and here we are amongst the greenery, the garden transformed from the skeletal beauty of Winter. The lush growth of the plants and trees block most of the outside view and, for a while, our lives seem to run parallel with the non-human creatures that live here too. We are contained together in privacy and peace in 'our' shared territory.

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Here's the 'Multi-species Diner'. Everything that grows here feeds birds and insects..... and we even get some of it too. We don't mind sharing the crops with other creatures; we all live in this little borrowed patch of land and it makes us very happy.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mother's Day

Sunday, 14th March is 'Mother's Day' in the UK. It is a special day for marking the love and respect we feel towards our own mother. It is also a fitting time to celebrate the beauty and richness of the mother of all ~ Mother Earth.

Tennessee Mountains, USA

Earth mother, star mother,
You who are called by
a thousand names,
May all remember
we are cells in your body
and dance together.
You are the grain
and the loaf
That sustains us each day,
And as you are patient
with our struggles to learn
So shall we be patient
with ourselves and each other.
We are radiant light
and sacred dark
- the balance -
You are the embrace that heartens
And the freedom beyond fear
Within you we are born
we grow, live, and die -
You bring us around the circle
to rebirth,
Within us you dance



"I am of the family of the universe, and with all of us together I do not fear being alone; I can reach out and touch a rock or a hand or dip my feet in water. Always there is some body close by, and when I speak I am answered by a plane's roar or the bird's whistling or the voices of others in conversation far apart from me. When I lie down to sleep, I am in the company of the dark and the stars.

Breathe to me, sheep in the meadow. Sun and moon, my father and my father's brother, kiss me on the brow with your light. My sister, earth, hold me up to be kissed. Sun and moon, I smile at you both and spread my arms in affection and lay myself down at full length for the earth to know I love it too and am never to be separated from it. In no way shall death part us."

(David Ignatow)

Loch Garry, Scotland

There is religion in everything around us,

A calm and holy religion

In the unbreathing things in Nature.

It is a meek and blessed influence,
Stealing in as it were unaware upon the heart,
It comes quickly, and without excitement,
It has no terror, no gloom,
It does not rouse up the passions,
It is untrammelled by creeds.....
It is written on the arched sky,
It looks out from every star,
It is on the sailing cloud and in the invisible wind,
It is among the hills and valleys of the earth
Where the shrubless mountain-top pierces the thin atmosphere of eternal winter,
Or where the mighty forest fluctuates before the strong wind,
With its dark waves of green foliage,
It is spread out like a legible language upon the broad face of an unsleeping ocean,
It is the poetry of Nature,
It is that which uplifts the spirit within us.....
And which opens to our imagination a world of spiritual beauty
and holiness.

(John Ruskin)

The Rocky Mountains

Grant me the ability to be alone,
May it be my custom to go outdoors each day among the trees and grasses,
among all growing things
and there may I be alone,
and enter into prayer
to talk with the one
that I belong to.

(Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav)

St. John's Chapel, Weardale, England

O our mother the earth, O our father the sky,
Your children are we, and with tired backs
We bring you gifts that you love.
Then weave for us a garment of brightness;
May the warp be the white light of the morning,
May the weft be the red light of evening,
May the fringes be the falling rain,
May the border be the standing rainbow.
Thus weave for us a garment of brightness
That we may walk fittingly where grass is green,
O our mother the earth, O our father the sky!

(Tewa Pueblo Prayer)

Monday, March 8, 2010

*Baby Harry Update*

Harry's luxury apartment

John from 'Sedgedunum Warbler' (visit his blog here) was enquiring after Harry's health so I thought this was a good time to do an update. The little chap is thriving. You can see his temporary home in the photo above, on the shelf in my computer room (aka spare room) amongst all the little knick-knacks that don't belong anywhere else.

Harry has a shallow layer of compost in his jar that he can burrow in if he wants. In the wild, snails need to burrow for various reasons, e.g. to lay their eggs, to avoid predators and to keep out of the heat, etc. I've been renewing the compost regularly and also gently spraying the sides of the jar with lukewarm water to keep Harry's home slightly humid and comfortable for him.

I have to make sure that the pieces of food that I put in for him are cut thinly so as not to crush him! He has a slice of cucumber just now which I'll replace today with some apple. The most important thing Harry will need while he's lodging with us is cuttlefish. He needs this for the calcium it will provide to help his shell grow big and strong, and for his general health. In the wild, snails get calcium and other minerals from the soil.

The man himself, fast asleep

Here's Harry fast asleep on the side of his jar...... and when I glanced round, he'd woke up. The little black squiggle near his tail is snail poop, perhaps the reason for his arousal from sleep! :O)

Good morning Harry

"Where's me grub?"

...... and here he is speeding towards the cucumber. This will provide him with both food and water.

Baby Harry will stay with us until he's a toddler and much bigger than he is now. By that time the early morning frosts should have gone and he can be introduced to the great outdoors. I will need to find a safe place to put him where he wont be trampled on or spotted by a Thrush..... but that's a while off yet and, meanwhile, it's lovely to have another gastropod guest. It brings back fond memories of
He's still breakfasting on the cucumber...... that's ma boy! :D