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.
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….
So this evening I’ve been watching the pipistrelle bats racing around. I love bats, ever since the ‘batman’ came to show my brownie pack some injured ones when I was about 7.
Bats get a bad press in literature, but in many cultures they were seen as protective.
Just to be absolutely sure, they’re not blind, nor do they get tangled up in hair.
In Britain seeing a bat at twilight is sign of good weather in the morning (one indoors signifies rain).
A bat in the house brings good fortune, and in Shropshire it’s considered bad luck (and obviously now illegal) to kill one.
Anyway, despite all of this I can’t get a shot of them for this post.
So I’m going to cheat and resort to this in-depth report below… 🙂
Calvin and Hobbes Comic Strip, November 03, 1989 on GoComics.com.
There are some lovely clumps of wild flowers at work at the minute, but one of my absolute favourites are daisies.
By nice coincidence they are attached to so much folklory stuff. Who hasn’t carried out their own divination and counted the petals of a ‘measure of love’ flower (and who hasn’t fixed the result!).
Nicholas Culpeper talks about the healing properties of the daisy, particularly for inflammation. During the medieval period the crushed flower were thought to aid wounds and help healing. Daisies were also thought to aid “women’s problems”, and in Wales during the Middle Ages it was used to treat madness, small pox and tumours.
Interestingly in celtic traditions it was thought that children who died at birth became daisies
Daisies were also used as protection – children dressed with daisy chains could not be stolen by fairies.
Today, again, I really missed my camera as we were watching and listening to the Jackdaws that are nesting in the village. Later this evening we had a visit of three to the bird table, but my super slow phone camera only managed to catch one in a very fuzzy photograph.
Jackdaws are interesting birds in folklore. In Welsh tradition they are said to be innocent and sacred birds, as the nest in church tower. Apparently the devil will have nothing to do with them.
However, in English folklore they are both good and bad. They are untrustworthy and associated with ill luck if found perched on your house, but a group of them is said to signify a new addition to the family and/or good fortune.
There is also the famous poem the Jackdaw of Rheims by Thomas Ingoldsby (the pen of an English clergyman named Richard Harris Barham), which you can listen to here if you wish.
I’m under the weather at the minute so my wild days are all close to home at the moment (the photographs are also a bit blurry as I’ve not got my proper camera due to a fault…). So today i went snail hunting with the littlest un. We counted 12 of all sizes and colours. Littlest un was particularly fascinated by the eyes…
Snails (and slugs) were reportedly good for removing warts. Rub the wart with the snail then stick it on a thorn. As the unfortuate snail dies the wart is removed, or in some case transferred onto another person.
Snails were also known to be linked with love – particularly in gypsy traditions as the following:
“A girl can win (illicit) love from a man by inducing him to carry a snail shell which she has had for some time about her person … To present a snail shell is to make a very direct but not very delicate declaration of love to any one.”
Charles Godfrey Leland, 1891, Gypsy Sorcery and Fortune-telling (p 96-97) New York: Charles Scribner’s Son