What is Success?
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
In Loving memory RPW x
I’ve never seen a Crab Spider before – apparently they can change colour, this brilliant yellow one blends in amazingly with the self seeding poppies.
I’ve neglected my blog for a long time, a mix of time short and illness has meant that sitting down to write has been difficult. My target of a blog a week has well and truly gone out of the window.
But it’s June and I’m taking part the Wildlife Trust’s 30 days wild so I’m going to hijack my blog to post the 30 wild posts. To keep it vaguely relevant, like last year, I’m going to try and link the ‘wildness’ to landscapes, folklore, archaeology, or all three is possible!
So… Day one: as part of Little Un’s continued birthday celebrations (and half term break) we went to the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth. I loved seeing the diversity of plants and animals from around the UK coast line (and further afield…) and little un truly loved the Shark tank….
But one of my favourite exhibits were the jellies – there was something about the beauty that was mesmerising.
I found the Common Jellyfish or Moon Jellies fascinating – and as they are prevalent around the British coastline, I’ve chosen them for my first wild experience of 2016. If it hadn’t been for the wild ones I would have happily spent my time watching them…. 🙂
Unsurprisingly I guess, much of the folklore relating to jellyfish is Japanese (I found a lovely story here) – in Britain there isn’t much that i have come across, with the exception of modern ‘urban myths’ of jelly invasions of large swarms; many of which are based on fact.
So for Day One I’ll just have to be content with the wildlife itself – and that is probably enough.
So the final day, and I made it to the end. There were a few multiple entries but not too bad overall considering I did put added pressure on myself by saying I’d add the folklore to the nature I found. And it was genuinely that way, the wildlife led the post, and some did require a bit of researching!!
Tonight I watched a little wood mouse run around the garden. I couldn’t get a shot so this will be the only picture-less post. I guess fitting in some ways.
If a mouse is heard to squeak near an ill person it will foretell their death, also they’re rumoured to be a cure for baldness…
I am going to miss this…
Sunday was a quiet day of pootling in the garden, and I just loved the self seeded poppies. I know they’re not native but the colour is fantastic
Monday and the penultimate day of this challenge was ended by just taking in the almost full moon.
Okay, so not strictly nature, but certainly something which, if all the moon planting advice is to go by, makes a real difference to how plants grow.
Animals too are really governed by the moon (the stag rutting season fall between two full moon, for example).
Obviously, us humans are supposed to be effected by full moons; the whole lunatic notion.
In folklore terms there are lots of connections, so I’m going to cherry pick a couple of examples.
I can’t not mention werewolves, and their transformation on a full moon.
Gateways to fae lands through fairy rings and similar are sometimes said to open only on a full moon (and I’ve warned you about that before….)
On Friday I was at a work event at Dartington Hall doing lots of outside activities and certainly going a bit wild at times. Zip lining through the trees was awsome, and I really enjoyed rock climbing in the disused quarry in the woods.
It would seem I’m not a natural archer and have the bruises to prove it…
Apparently Dartington Hall is haunted by the ghost of a white lady, but she didn’t make an appearance for us.
Saturday was a morning on the beach with the wild ones.
We made a dinosaur
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first, four leaf clovers are said to bring good luck (especially if placed in the shoe).
The rhyme goes:
one leaf for fame, one leaf for wealth,
One for a faithful lover,
One leaf to bring glorious health.
Are all in a four leaf clover
On the other hand a five leaf clover (is there such a plant?!) is bad luck.
The white clover was used to ward off and remove evil spirits and ghosts. It can be worn as a talisman, or put in the four corners of a house. It is said to be also good to remove hexes if scattered.
Clover (both three and four leaf) was also said to enable communication with fairies and the underworld.
To talk to the fairies you must wear clover in your hat. To see them you need to cover yourself in an ointment made of a four leaf clover, or carry a charm made of seven grains of wheat and a four leaf clover.
If you’re having trouble finding them, a field of clover is said to attract fairies.
More train travel today, but once again my walk across campus paid off as I found the cornflowers just starting to appear.
Cornflowers were traditionally worn by young men in love as a symbol of their devotion, and as a sort of good luck talisman in their pursuit of romance.
It was thought that cornflowers protected against evil people, visitors, and actions.
The flower could be worn or if a home was to be protected it needed to be swept clean and crumpled flower sprinkled on the floor and in cupboards.
This would protect the house from unwanted visitors crossing the threshold.
A mixture of dehydrated cornflower was thought to help inflammation of the eye, and the flower was said to be particularly beneficial to those who have eyes of matching blue.
Day 22 was spent mostly travelling, but there is some fantastic wildlife visible from the train. Unfortunately, not the type that can be photographed. You’ll have to take my word that the female deer and baby were beautiful.
Day 23 had a strange start, namely flying (or more technically correct, falling) slugs.
Out in the garden with the wild ones before breakfast inspecting little un’s pumpkin plants when the littlest un shouted out. A slug, presumably dropped by a bird, landed in front of us.
They thought it was fantastic, I’m not so sure the slug agreed (although better than being eaten I guess).
As I noted on day 2 Slugs were rubbed on warts and pierced with a thorn to remove the blemishes. They were also thought to be a cure for Tuberculosis, dysentery and stomach ulcers.
There is also some suggestion about a hangover cure, which doesn’t really bear thinking about…!
A nice cup Lemon Balm ‘tea’ is in order.
Now I know it’s not a native plant… but it was used in monastic gardens (after being brought to England via Spanish trading) and then naturalised in the south of England, so I can justifiy it’s inclusion here.
Lemon Balm is known for its soothing qualities, particularly of stress and anxiety. The 16th century herbalist John Gerad talked about the many uses for it
“…Drunk in wine, it is good against the bitings of venomous beast, comforts the heart, and drives away melancholy…The juice glueth together green wounds.”
Apparently Shakespeare uses it in a number of his plays, as the flower of Lemon Balm was used as a sort of code; in this case as a message of sympathy between lover.
There is also historical evidence that if Lemon Balm has an interesting effect on bees and makes them stay together in the hive or another place.
In folkloric terms Lemon Balm was also used to ward of evil.
For me, I like the taste, but I’m hoping for a bit of that calming quaility after a pretty full on day….