Friday, 26 June 2009

a walk on the wild side

The allotment has been invaded by ladybirds. At first I didn’t understand what was happening; tiny scales coloured orange and black were appearing on the logs and the stems and the leaves. I knew some predator was coming, just not what.

Then one day I turned up and next to a shrivelled larva shell was an yellow ladybird with no spots. When I next looked at the beetle, the spots had gradually faded into being. Was it next going to turn red? Now there are hundreds of red ladybirds with spots all over the plants. Just in time to consume the aphids, which are also proliferating on the fruit trees and other sensitive plants.

Last week a large snake appeared in the long grass at the edge of the allotment, to die. It was three feet long, probably a grass snake. I sprayed water on it but it was on its way out. After it died, I noticed it had been bitten, perhaps by a fox, which had left its poo on the path edging the allotment.

Perhaps the snake had been attracted by toads there. I noticed one when I was picking redcurrants from the forest of currants; it’s cool and dark and damp there, a good place for a toad.

The blackbirds are still singing as I pick the currants. They love redcurrants particularly, and I wonder from the poo on the leaves whether they’ve had their fair share. The hungry gap is over and the land has started to yield a crop for us humans as well as others.

I am in love with the whole thing, and every part, as well as the interconnectedness. Of ladybird, blackbird, snake and cabbage. Compost, soil, nettle and worm. The lessons just deepen and will never end.

I look at the yield of my allotment neighbour, who used to be a farmer. It’s far better than mine, at least double, even triple. He's a top-notch grower, and everyone's envious of his yield. Yet I doubt whether he has any ladybirds, snakes or toads. There’s no room for wild places on his allotment; he uses every square inch and he’s an avid weeder. He uses slug pellets and goodness knows what else. Bless him. This is the situation of our world: we humans want to maximize our crop, our income from the earth’s ‘resources’, but what happens to wild nature? I doubt we can exist without it. I welcome a time when we humans discover our own interconnectedness, learn to walk on the wild side.


martina said...

You're so right about this. I hate it, when people eliminate every bit of wilderness in their gardens - as well as in their homes and their lives. But wild things are strong. Look at elderberry bushes - they keep growing even if coursely mistreated, no wonder the plant has such great healing powers.

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

As I read this I thought of Joni Mitchell's environmental record (you are too young to remember it) 'Big Yellow Taxi' with the words "farmer put away the DDT, give me spots on my apples but leave me the birds and the bees".