Wednesday, November 11, 2015

One mile around home

Life has changed a lot since my last entry.  I have been found to be diabetic and, as a consequence, have had to give up driving.  At 77 years old I don't move too quickly either so my ramblings are restricted to a radius of about one mile (I prefer this rather old fashioned phrase to 'one kilometer').

Taking excercise is important for everyone, so as often as possible I go for what I call a 'constitutional', a walk of a mile or so from home and back.  This all takes place in the parish of Sedlescombe in the High Weald of East Sussex.  By dint of long habit I always look at the wildlife and usually manage to find something I have not seen before - it is extraordinary how very rich a relatively small area of our planet can be and I suppose I shall never run out of novelty or phenomena that make me reflect on the way things work.  From now on I will try to update this blog regularly and you are welcome to walk with me (especially if you are suffering from insomnia).

The photo at the top of this page was looking south west from the corner of our lane to the distant town of Battle.  It seems fine: fat sheep grazing contentedly, trees and hedges touched with autumn yellows and browns.  But, we are having one of the mildest Novembers on record.  Most of the leaves are still on the trees, many of them green.  The grass that is being chomped by the sheep is much more vivid and lush than normal at this time of year, and still growing vigorously.  In the woods by this field there have been almost no terrestrial fungi since late summer - there used to be thousands of many different species.  There are hardly any autumn insects either and, if there are no fungi for their larvae to eat, there may be hardly any in the future to the detriment of birds, small animals, spiders and other creatures.  The ground in the wood is deeply carpeted with leaves, but they do not seem to be rotting down in the usual way; maybe due to the warmth and lack of frost or, more worryingly, because soil-dwelling invertebrates are not doing their jobs properly.  In the past fallen oak leaves have usually borne a good crop of spangle galls each with a small worm at its heart that could have been a quick snack for many fossicking creatures, but I have seen very few this year and many of those do not seem to have developed properly and are twisted and shrivelled.

As though to make a point, I found an unseasonal primrose in full flower.  I have no idea, by the way, why this property is called 'Ariel'.  The name has been applied to all sorts of things and people over the years, but none seem to have any particular relevance to the small country retreat flagged up here.

I also found a branch that had been knocked off a beech tree at the plot called 'Rosewood'.  This has recently changed hands, so it might have been a visiting lorry that pulled the branch down. Tomorrow I shall cut a length of wood suitable for making a paper knife.  I like making paper knifes, or letter openers as they are often called.  It is just simple whitling, but there is some technique in getting a high polish on the blade and creating other small details.  Each one takes many hours, so they are definitely not a commercial proposition, but I like making them out of different woods and then giving them away - a sort of antidote to the computer and writing a blog.

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