While the house is burning.

 

 

I wish it wasn’t so, but our beautiful home is under profound attack from pollution of so many types.

Many problems need to be tackled by governments and governments are elected by the people who vote for them in democracies.  Governments are slow moving and frustrating at the best of times, so while we try to get them to even consider the environment in their plans, we have to do what we can to improve matters ourselves.

I am painfully aware of how small the things we can do are, but to paraphrase:  better to light a candle than to just curse the darkness, so here is what I personally do.

If you have more ideas please share them on the blog.

We can all learn from each other (whatever our age!)

This list is in order of the newest things I have learnt on the top.

1. Use toothpaste tablets. You just chew one and brush and rinse as normal.  They work as well as tooth paste and produce zero plastic waste.  These come from Germany, but I am sure you can find them everywhere.
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2. Use rock salt underarm deodorant.  It works 100 percent and has zero plastic waste.  This pretty pink egg of salt can in a wrap of paper from funky soaps, but there are lots of others.
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3. Wrap your sandwiches from home in a cotton bees wax wrap every day for lunch.  Zero plastic waste, moist bread!
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4. Use bamboo toothbrushes.  The handle can be used as a fire lighter or composted as it is wood.  Some bristles are still plastic unfortunately, but at least the great big handle isn’t.
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5. Buy wooden toilet brushes.  Zero plastic waste – burnable.
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6. Use wooden headed washing up sink brushes.  The handle is metal and the head
can be replaced when worn out and composted or burnt. Zero plastic waste.
.
7. Use solid bar shampoo.  It is just as good as liquid shampoo and produces……ZERO PLASTIC WASTE!
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8. Use real soap in the shower, not shower gel in a plastic container.  Zero plastic waste.
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9. Learn to use an old fashioned razor with replaceable metal blades.  Zero Plastic waste.
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10. Buy vegetables loose, not in plastic packages.  You buy much less and so don’t waste food.  Use a cotton bag to put the veg and fruit in to weigh individually.  Stick all the individual labels on the outside of the same cotton bag to take to the check out and show the cashier.  Zero plastic waste.
11. Compost all your vegetable matter – obviously!

I am still producing way too much plastic waste with:

1. Cat food
2. Meat packaging
3. Snack packages
4. Virtually all processed food packages.

I know that there are solutions to all these things, but I dont live near a city where I can buy loose packaging free alternatives.

One day I will have time to make cat food, buy cuts of meat and get the butcher to put them in glass tubs and make all myfood from scratch, but not yet.

 

In the face of so much plastic pollution it is easy to give up and give in, but I am optimistic enough to think that the small changes made by ordinary people will make a difference and while  we wait for the politicians to make the big changes, we should make as many changes to our own lives as we can before we all drown in plastic!

 

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Just don’t ask me to eat it!

I am almost over my horror of fungi.

This autumn has been extraordinary in the rich variety of mushrooms coaxed up by the rain, but I will never be tempted to eat any of them again.

This particular mushroom cap was thin and as smooth as porcelain. The edge was lined, as if it had shrunk back with delicate avoidance of the falling leaves pattering down all around it.

The aspen leaves were yellow and then black – no warming russets or browns to lull you – they know winter is coming and lay down to die with minimal fuss.

They only leave behind an unexpected perfume without the slightest a hint of decay . Something soft left lingering in the air.

Love..

I love the sun and I love the rain. We have been blessed with a bright Indian summer and sometimes it seemed like the sunshine would never end and it was frankly just too bright and too intolerably shiny.

In the endless good weather my tom cat went decidedly crazy. He stayed out all night and disappeared into the white full moon. This may sound frisky and fun, but we couldn’t sleep when he was out for foolish worry and when we managed to entice him home, him seemed frantic, hunted and frankly deranged! So we have kept him indoors, bought new catnip toys and tried to make friends with him again. He has slowly reintegrated into domestic life, allows strokes, occasionally purrs and kicks the life out of the cat nip toys.

Now it is raining properly . The gutters are running and the roof is pattering. The water butts are bubbling over. We have lit the stove again and everyone (cats included) is calming down in front  of the fire.  Ahh that’s better!

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Harvest Home

We have finally lifted all the potatoes; rolled five fat pumpkins onto the back step to finish ripening and picked the apples from our single apple tree: it feels like the harvest is in.

This, however, is very small fry in comparison to the massive harvest of the real countryside and the deeply bizarre manifestation of its bounty in the agricultural extravaganza in local Mulhouse.

In the huge exposition centre thousands upon thousands of people crowd in to look at stands of  arranged vegetables. This is not the type of flower show that I knew well from places like Brecon in Wales, where lovingly grown marrows were judged for weight and gloss and three perfect sweetpea blossoms were awarded hotly contested rosettes for perfume and hue. This was the deliberate piling of fruit and vegetables into improbable and inedible unicorns, dragons and cathedrals and it made me long for the simplicity of the single sweetpea.

The picture above is of the more recognisable offerings of landmarks from the Alsace town of Colmar in mosaics of potatoes and pumpkins.

 

CA9AAA90-8F7F-4621-86F8-976E8812CB35.jpegThe Statue of Liberty in sprouts was a particular favourite. Bartholdi was a son of Colmar and created the monumental statue in France for the American people. I bet  immigrants to The USA never envisaged their welcoming symbol of a new life picked out in green sprouts as they sailed into New York!

 

Reasons to buy a House.

We live on a strange line.

We didn’t know it when we bought our house. We bought the place because it just felt right, as soon as we arrived and we weren’t really looking, but we bought it anyway. Ten years later we are still here and all you have to do is look up on a day like today to know why we really choose it.

Tens of thousands of birds have passed over our garden today. Their wings are rustling above our heads. Flock after flock, flinking and beating. The first time you see them you just grin with astonishment; the second time you try to really listen and the third time you decide that the dry sound is like a rain shower through summer trees, almost gone before it reaches the ground.

They are pigeons coming out of Central Europe and flying west across France and into Spain and Portugal. Thousands  and thousands of birds crossing right over this odd intersection of Germany, France and Switzerland and over my back garden on a still sunny Sunday afternoon.

It appears we unwittingly bought a house on a major migration route for birds.

Spring and autumn birds flow over us. Down the lane serious birders set up telescopes and send in records of raptors and rarities to international migration sites.  My husband scans the skies from the comfort of the porch and convenient cups of tea. I look up when I hear the birds: air pushing, confident beats of stocky powerful wings and he indicates that the whole sky from edge to edge is black with the improbable smoke of the migrating pigeons.

So that’s why it has always felt like the right place!

Picking Raspberries in the rain.

The autumn raspberries are always small.

My fingers fumble for them amongst the yellowing leaves.

There has been just enough sun to ripen a few hard green knots into fragrantly

soft fruit, bowed down now in easy reach of the gleaming slugs.

And now the rain.

A benediction of mist in a quiet grey sky

Makes slippery the sticky handle of the little basket.

My fingers close lightly and tug to loosen the wet fruit from the white stipe

But the raspberry crumbles, the droops bleed juice and rain onto my hand.

I should have picked them long ago.

 

 

“A duck takes flight …”

 

THE POEM

We talk merely to sell the ironmongery
of ourselves. In the marshy pool
of everything we say,
we waste words
like wind that moves the sluggish rushes,
the reed-bed.
But suddenly
a duck takes flight
and its feathers gleam
with colours:
the poem.

Listen to the beating of wings, gaze at it,
your shotguns of silence
lowered, for now.

From Maps of Desire by Manuel Forcano, published by Arc.