Saturday, 30 May 2015

Nature Nurture

From left to right: Hayle Towans, jellyfish washed up on Lelant beach, Olly and his snails,
 orange tip (open and closed), close up of clover, dor beetle, bee, wild strawberry, Mrs Blackbird, golden sands,
runner beans,  pill millipede, waiting for the butterfly, slow worm, holly blue closed

I visited the allotment on Wednesday. To weed and stake the beans.  At first I enjoyed the quiet and peace. A half term house full of three boys and one husband makes for a noisy home. Then I heard it; my first ever cuckoo. You'll probably all be amazed that I've never heard one before, but there you go. I stood up to listen more closely. It really did cuckoo, but the sound was softer than I had imagined. I wish you could have seen me, stood there, my jeans already grubby, with a big smile on my freckly face. It was a special moment.

And the allotment wasn't actually quiet at all. There was an ever present sound of the pollinators humming, the wren and blackbirds singing, the swallows wittering, the skylark high in the air chattering. Higher still, the buzzards cried out as they rode the thermals. The grasses swished in the gentle morning breeze, and there was the occasional cry of the grouse in the fields beyond. I was struck at how none of these different sounds jarred, or even overshadowed each other. I could single out the individual sounds and cries and noises. It was all in harmony and balance. Even the whinny of the horses and the low moan of the cows, felt in step with the wilder sounds of nature.

And then natures melody was shattered by a fellow plot holder, who started up the allotment strimmer. A man made sound. Whiny and shrill. And too bloody loud. It drowned out all other sound, grating and getting on my nerves. I was glad that I had more or less finished, and packed up to leave.


Olly and me have been lucky enough to see some wonderful creatures this week. And I'm not sure whether he is very eagle eyed, or just lower to the ground than me, but he was responsible for spotting most of them. None of them rare or fancy, but still miraculous to us. How often do you notice or see the very small? How many of us balk at the sight of bugs and creepy crawlies? I must admit that I used to. When I was a child, I'd run a mile from an earwig. They still make me rather nervous (I blame Anthony Jones, who told me that they crawl into your ear when you sleep and lay their eggs). Olly is a little nervous of spiders. Fair enough. But he loved the little pill millipede that he found. And marvelled at the jellyfish washed up on the beach. He rescued a slow worm from the cat's clutches. And was fascinated by its' dropped rear end writhing in the soil.

Germaine Greer writes of the sudden awareness of kinship that sees us stop and look at the midge rather than swat him. It's something I've become more and more aware of in myself these past three years. I have always been respectful of the natural world. I am a long time Attenborough fan. But I'm not sure that I ever really noticed what was going on all around me. I think I was probably too busy paying myself and my angst ridden ego too much attention. Now however, I feel this actual physical pull towards it. Maybe it's a sign of a real acceptance of myself, cellulite and all. My shaking off of a certain vanity, has opened my eyes to the wonder and beauty around me. I almost feel as if the natural world is taking its' own tentative steps, and inviting me to the party.

There are two more things to add to that:

I am going to Lou's Shoes in Penzance on Monday, and buying some Dunlop wellies. I've had it with designer rubber boots. They just don't cut the mustard.

I have mentioned it elsewhere, but Olly picked up the wriggling discarded rear end of the slow worm, and carried it around the house for a while. It did not sit well with my stomach.

Have a great weekend friends,

Leanne xx


  1. Ah Leanne! I am down for the party as well! Isn't it all just fantastic to just embrace all of this amazing goodness! Putting all the other stuff aside and seeing things in such light is a blessing I believe! And how wonderful that your little guy shares in all of this adventure and beauty as well! Loving those pretty photos and I am so glad you had that sweet time at your plot (before the other whining human interrupted!) to take in all of the sounds!!! Wishing you an awesome weekend! Nicole xo

  2. I've become more attuned to nature recently too. Countryside Tales and Barbara Kingsolver have helped I think. I hear you with the wellies, I'm going to get some stout plain ones from the ironmonger, my prettier ones have split, as you say, they aren't designed for the tough work of allotmenting. Lovely photos, I especially like the butterflies. I actually managed to photograph some common blues up on Painswick Beacon the other day. I shall post the pictures soon. And probably ad nauseum thereafter, it's not often I manage to photograph a butterfly. I really like the top left picture too, and the one of Olly, he almost looks as if he is underwater, with the surface of the pool above him. Have a good Sunday Leanne, I'm glad the allotment is coming along. I've never heard a cuckoo either, I mentioned that to CT the other day when she had so many. CJ xx

  3. I love nature (although I'm not sure about the howling wind and rain at the moment). I usually get to hear a cuckoo towards the end of April, but not this year. Too many houses being built on green fields on the edge of the village I suspect. Maybe there is still time if the weather sorts itself out. Have a great Sunday. x

    1. I should have said - have you tried Hunter wellies? Mine always last years - and get worn most days for the walk to school, and they come in pretty colours too. :) x

  4. Amen to all of that my friend. Nature has a way of coming towards you if you go towards it - just like your baby blackbird yesterday and Olly's beetle. It is a peaceful and fulfilling place to be and I am so glad you are finding your way xx

  5. my Dunlop wellies that I got when working for the Ministry of Agriculture as part of my degree have just split. 25 years later.

  6. Hi Leanne. I am all for proper wellies, nothing worse than a wellie splitting at the wrong time.... I clearly remember seeing the only sloe worm when I was little. I was with my grandfather. I heard a cuckoo last weekend when I was snug as a bug in my sleeping bag up North. It must have been around dawn and there was other birdsong, too. Amazing. You sound wonderfully happy my friend. Cxx

  7. I so agree about the value of proper wellies. And share your wariness of earwigs for much the same reason ... boys can be so mean!

    Whisper it, we may (stress still on the may) finally be getting an allotment here :)

  8. I've never had wellies. I like them, though. Sometimes I wish I would actually need them here because I think they're cool and they solve a lot of shoe-decision problems, it seems. I enjoyed seeing the sights at the beach and outdoors in general around you. There is always so much to see. Did you know that my road-runners are related to the cuckoo? They don't make that same sound but they're similar in some other ways. I hope you have a good week, Leanne.

  9. I think you and Olly are doing a wonderful job of teaching each other about nature. I bought a pair of Aigle boots, possibly the most expensive item of footwear I have owned, (considerably more than my Timberland walking boots even) but if you wear them a lot and I do wear mine a lot than they are not a luxury but an essential. Have a good week at the allotment and don't forget to run round with the hoe at the start of every session!

  10. Oh yes!!! That's why gardening never gets boring either. There's always something else to see, or learn about, and just being out in nature restores balance. It is fascinating to learn more about the small creatures and common plants all around us. I can't understand people who stomp past them all without even being able to name them. There's so much to know, to see literally right under our noses. Thank you for sharing this love with us. The photos are outstanding, and I love how you have expressed your feeling for the natural world.

  11. You are so zen abou the creepy crawlies! I wish I could be but they make me shudder, and that makes me ashamed of myself. Isn't the cuckoo a beautiful sound? It seems like the allotment and you are making peace and getting to know each other which is lovely. xx