Sunday, November 06, 2011

November reflections

Emthree is scattered with fallen leaves: yellow hornbeam, brown oak and sallow, pink spindle.  I am starting to visit more regularly and have been looking for microfungi, mines and galls on the dead leaves, but have not found much yet.

Still, I can tidy the area by picking up a small boxful of leaves and then have the pleasure of sorting through them, lens in hand, in the warmth of the sitting room.

20111105 Metre Butterfly Rock Butterfly Rock is very colourful just now and the fairy cup lichen is covering a greater area than ever before.  It looks to me like Cladonia fimbriata,  from their golf-tee shape, perhaps mixed with another Cladonia.  Simon Davey, in 2008, said that Cladonia on this sandstone rock were C. pyxidata, but that was on the basis that they were not golf-tee shape.  Maybe we have had three Cladonia spp. here.  The grey patches are another lichen, supposedly Lecanora campestris, but I am not too happy with that determination.

I have just read (at one sitting) Peter Medawar's The Limitations of Science published in 1984.  He ends with the famous line from Voltaire's Candide: "We must cultivate our garden." (Il faut cultiver notre jardin.).  I suppose my long involvement with Emthree has been one kind of example of that.  It is my 'garden', though whether what I do can be construed as cultivation or not is a question.

My aim is not to generate produce to feed or clothe the body, or to manufacture artefacts (though I am currently using medlars from the area for some recipes) but material to feed the mind.  It is a privilege to watch the ebb and flow of this small area's teeming life with all its beauty and wonder, from neatly coiled snails with their regularly etched shells under bits of dead wood, to the fluttering yellow leaves hanging on the sky-bound top of the seven year old birch tree.

Emthree is a vortex of life and sometimes I fancy I can see through the kind of glass St. Paul saw through darkly that Emthree is in a sense the entire universe enfolded, with myself in its loving embrace, into a small flake of biosphere on the surface of Planet Earth.