Tonight I walked around a corner and my eye caught the moon. It pinned me to the spot, and for a moment I was startled and shocked. The phase of it caught me off guard and shamed me. Usually I keep a close eye on the moon and what it’s up to. Yet it was nearly full and I didn’t remember how it got there. Time had caught me and dragged me along for a week or two. I had slipped out of the habit of moon watching and it feels like maybe spring has not been dragged along too. The local beekeepers have noticed this; the paused spring. They say, “ ...the spring plants are only starting to appear now hawthorn and sycamore as well as the horse chestnut are just starting so the spring flow will begin in earnest.” Beekeepers talk in ‘flows’; nectar flow. The dandelion flow has stopped a couple of weeks ago and the bees do get noticeably sad, and a little grumpy.
Today we took the little people for a walk in the woods. While hunting for ogres I kept an eye out for the summer, and spotted the beginnings of foxgloves and willow herb. They were only starting, but at least they knew the summer is around the corner
A sense of the moon and plant watching are good habits if I can maintain them. Another good habit I am trying to perfect is bread making. Lately my experiments have settled on a recipe for the best bread I can make. The key ingredient seems to be time. If we need a loaf of bread we need to start at least twelve hours before we need it. Before breakfast I add the yeast, water, butter, and half the flour. Then much later in the day (usually ten hours later), I add the rest of the flour and the salt. It is kneaded, allowed to rise for an hour, knocked back, then allowed to rise for another hour and a half.
A good habit that I am trying to begin is slug picking. It takes a bit of self will, and I haven’t perfected it yet. The idea is to put a head torch on and venture out into the garden in the late evening before bedtime. When I have dragged myself towards doing this I collect about half a cup of slugs (assuming this is the accepted unit of volume of slugs). I don’t want to put them in the bin as that would be too kind a fate, and I suspect they would escape and carry on eating. Instead, I place them in an empty curry sauce container with a clip on lid. Their fate is cruel. I place the container in front of the coffee machine so that I do not forget their doom. After breakfast I make the first espresso of the day and remember to take the curry pot out to the hungry chickens before heading off to work. When I began this habit the lovely Sharon was shocked, “Leaving slugs in the kitchen is hardly hygienic?” I pointed out that if they were able to escape the curry sauce container then hygiene would be the least of our worries. Logic and the unlikely prospect of supermollusc strength slugs moved her to acceptance.
some more slug food to be planted
While out slug hunting my eye caught a dancing hair in the soil. It looked other worldly and out of place. I was mesmerised by its dance and wondered if that was the intention; to captivate and enchant some poor bird or small mammal. I suspected it was a parasite. I think I might have been wrong about the dancing, but my parasitic instincts were correct.
It is a horseshair worm; a parasite that people used to believe might be a horse’s hair coming to life. Of course I kept this new found parasitic worm knowledge to myself and did not tell the lovely Sharon for fear that she might lay down the law on my new habit of keeping my slugs in the kitchen.