Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Shiver me timbers!

Hydrangea Aspera, dried or alive it holds it's show value.

What a beautiful day! Agreed it was very cold, but it was a dry cold with no moisture in the air and crisp blue skies all day long. Just one brief gripe about last nights television, I was watching 'Three Men in Three Different Boats', or something along those lines, and Rory McGrath was really winding me up. They've been heading for the Scilly Isles to catch the Autumn bird migration, and Rory who claimed to be a borderline Twitcher arrives on the Scillies without any binoculars! That guy's not even a borderline birder, in fact in this case he's a fully fledged twit!! Okay I feel better now I've got that off my chest. It won't be long now till we start the big winter tidy up, working our way up through the college cutting back all the herbaceous perennials and mulching as we go. We do try to leave this job till as late as possible, as the tidy look can feel a bit clinical and also when the plants die back they take on a muted brittle beauty that hides a busy ecosystem beneath, a scattering of seeds keeps the birds happy. Greenfinch, Dunnock, Song Thrush, blackbird, Chaffinch and Golfinches are all easily flushed from last years dried growth.

Whilst the ground is hard and frozen it's best stay off the beds and grass, so today we tackled an area of open ground that we want to grow a mixture of soft fruit and vegetables, removing tree stumps by hand using spades and a mattock is exhausting, but warm work, and of course at the end when all the roots have been chopped, torn and splintered in the final push you can strike a triumphant pose over the felled beast, like Phil's doing in this photo above. As the sun dipped below a loose skim of milky cloud, a marmalade glow torched the bare trees and a couple of unexpected Snipe zig- zagged overhead. In the lee of a darkening slab of Yew our finger ends prickled with cold, signaling the time to load up the tools and head back to the Bothy. As we crossed the footbridge by the orchard my eye caught sight of the half moon, a single scoop of shave ice that made me feel hungry.


Chris Priestley said...

Careful Peter. You know Rory lives in Cambridge don't you? In fact I saw him birdwatching only the other day (or at least bird-gazing and speculating). He didn't have any binoculars then either, come to think of it.

pulps from the bothy said...

Yes I knew that, I'm sure he is genuinely interested in birds, but there really is no excuse for going to the Scilly Isles at the height of the bird migration without binoculars, it's the birding equivalent of crossing the desert and forgetting to take any water!