… and we’re all stuck at home losing the thread of it all. I strongly suspect I would actually be pleased enough with the phenomena (of the change in the experience of time) if I didn’t feel like I was losing stuff to work or making work fit in a box that’s managed somehow to phase into an alternate dimension’s phase space. I think I would like to let my days be dictated more by the rise and fall of the day; work in a garden when it’s perfect for it, work on indoor admin and cerebral things between times, or prepping good food in a comfortable, unrushed sort of way. I’m getting the impression that quite a few people are doing exactly that, and also that they like that aspect of this shutdown stuff at least. Twitter – admittedly my echo chamber part of it – seems to be full of people suddenly noticing birds and new flowers growing in verges. It’s not *all* an echo chamber effect though, one of my friends from another interest stream tweeted recently about such things and I genuinely had to check it was really his account I was looking at.
I continue to feel somewhat sorry for myself and while I go outside to exercise and find nice things to brighten me up a bit I seem to be missing the battery that lets me store the feeling to bring it home and also to write about them. But we shall see what can be done. I went back to the bog and enjoyed the squelch and the bounce again, was charmed by the dueling cuckoos all around me (at least 3) and looked at clouds in the little pools. They can’t really be described as mirror pools, for all they can be beautifully still, because they tend to have more squidge and ooze and life.
A lot of the expanse of the bog is still very mud and graveyard on the eye, just spotted with white and the soft green of young birch and willow – I was surprised how much whiter the bog cotton was this time round in comparison to last trip. Perfect ground to hide this frog and the spider that wouldn’t cooperate with the paparazzi.
It’s only when you go down closer to the ground you start to notice the far more startling colours, like the red on this Cladonia lichen. Which reminds me! I have to mention one of my absolute favourite photographers, who coincidentally takes a lot of macro photographs in the wetlands in parts of my home county, Tina Claffey (http://www.tinaclaffey.com/ and @tinaclaffey on twitter https://twitter.com/TinaClaffey) I adore her exquisite shots of things I know are tiny and often hard to notice in an apparent sea of neutral, and I really like that I get little treats of her work on twitter on a regular basis. If you want *proper* pictures of the bog in Spring I wholeheartedly recommend this gallery http://www.tinaclaffey.com/tc_gallery_spring.html
Home this evening and still not properly able to settle to thought or creation, I seem plagued by the lack of whatever makes self distraction possible. I made myself go outside in to my overgrown garden, which I have been weirdly reluctant to do for ages now. More since neighbours backing onto my house decided to remove three trees from a no man’s land patch between our properties. I get weirdly upset everytime I go to my kitchen window, all the view seems to be now is other people’s windows and I *hate* it. This is also not quite accurate, there are still some leaves in on the lower section of the view since I have a birch, a bay and a crab apple there but it is different, there is a lot more visibility to the other houses, and I miss the elder and all the bird life that it brought in particular.
It also makes me excruciatingly aware of how disordered the back of my house and my back garden is, so I’ve been slowly starting to try to address that. I have been happy to let the grass and dandelions grow for some time as recommended by the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan as stupid amounts of our bee, butterflies and general insect populations come under threat of extinction in Ireland and indeed the world because “we have drastically reduced the amount of food (flowers) and safe nesting sites in our landscapes.” The dandelions in flower, as I think I mentioned before, were a sunny band all along the back of mostly shaded garden. The seedheads themselves are pretty in close up and I’ve spotted some chaffinches deciding to make them lunch from my crab apple a couple of times, but I must confess the long, discolouring stalks and the big straggly sepals tend to remind me that my garden witch mother considers them foes and very much in need of removal. With fire, as necessary. (Quite literally, at one stage I was sent around with a blowtorch strapped to a pole to burn the seedheads and plants in the crevices of flagstones.) So today I removed some of them, not all, carefully leaving a large patch still to flower while I consider my next plan.
I want to reclaim the garden, a little at least. I am firmly of the belief that the age of the lawn is now done. I was never going to have the finances and time resources available to be able to maintain a smooth sheet of green anyway, but I would like whatever postage stamp bit of ground I can currently influence to be of benefit, not exist as a pale imitation of some hold over from when rich people liked to show off they had so much money they didn’t need to grow *useful* things. I like the idea of growing vegetables sure, but I’m not sure yet if I have the resources to do that and I’m currently far more interested in expanding my garden’s function in aiding the campaign to increase biodiversity. Laois County Council were involved in the production of a gardening guide I’m paying some attention to https://laois.ie/wp-content/uploads/Garden-Wildlife-Booklet-WEB-17MB.pdf and I’ve seen Collie Ennis (@collieEnnis on twitter, https://twitter.com/CollieEnnis) and some others on twitter mention small inexpensively put together home ponds which I’m definitely thinking of including. I’ve been thinking over the last week that I would love to have something to attract birds to the bit of wall I can see through my window as I sit at the PC and work and type, but I’ve always been nervous of encouraging birds when I have cats.
I have no lawnmower, it broke last year. Given my plans now I reckon I would be better spending the money I would spend to replace it on something more project useful. Right now though I still have the vaguely rectangle and vaguely square patches of mossy grass in front and back that have been in place since we moved here. I kept postponing planing to do stuff with them apart – from my lavender plantation and the birch and primroses I have at the end of my front – as I was always, well, broke. I know people say you can garden without money but I suggest that tools are kind of important for a start. In an effort to start figuring out what I can plan and do I started to clip the grass a bit with a clippers, but since it was tearing rather than cutting half the time, it kind of turned into me wandering around the back on my knees, pulling handfuls of grass tops off with a positively bovine, scrunching noise. This has the benefit of me being able to save the patches of cowslip, tormentil, speedwell, plantain and so on but it does look like it was invaded by a picky cow for 20 minutes. Down the very back, where some of the large patch of dandelions were, I found I was clearing to earth, to occasional quartz pebble (imported, certainly) and scraps of leaf litter, snail shells and that most glorious smell of damp, leafed earth. I was reminded of articles like this one that suggest there may be antidepressant qualities in dirt microbiome.
Much of my inertia in home and garden projects comes from two things. The biggest one is that I have tended to try to do too much in one go, I wildly hyperfocused, did too much, felt like crap as a result of the over effort and got disheartened because I didn’t have the money or time to follow up with very much to have made the work worth it. I’m trying to just do a small amount and leave it after an amount of measured time rather than fix on a perceived achieved x end point of , because it is my fluctuating idea of what the end point is (largely done but not done well enough is a really hard thing to measure) that makes me persist too long. And let’s face it, right now time is just weird anyway. What is the idea of getting it done at the weekend because you might be too busy over the next couple of weekends doing SCA stuff, or seeing friends now, that idea of parcels of free time in a sea of other things is not the same. I’m going nowhere, the week is this weird construct that is mostly defined by my work colleagues’ expectations of seeing my green dot on their screens and being able to call me. So now I have said I will go out outside. Anything I do I am doing with the vague idea of trying to make things better for wildlife and to expose myself to earth, sunlight and air for mental health reasons and if my garden looks slightly better, great.