silkworms start feasting on the mulberry leaves 22/72

(working as part of a ‘Japanese 72 season micro-climate’ artist collaborative initiative within Treesisters)

Japanese season called ‘Shoman’/ Lesser Ripening. 20th May until 5th June .
Micro climate ‘silkworms start feasting on mulberry leaves’ 21st May – 25th May.

A pair of swallows swoop and dive outside my window.
Normally our house attracts house martins….I sincerely hope this pair are choosing our house to nest in. Such joy I feel as I watch them whirl around. There have been notably far fewer of both species this year. I read that they are choosing to stay further south….I hope this is true.

‘Our’ bats are also getting active in our loft. Not sure what type they are yet. We see them in the evenings whirling in the gloaming and their squeaking is so loud, in the attic, that I thought I had a kind of strange tinnitus the other night as I lay in bed! I became worried that our colony was becoming unsustainable, but on further research learned we have nothing to worry about…I will have to go up there and check how much bat shit is accumulating though! Hope it’s lots as it is a miracle fertiliser!

The dew now lies heavy in the bright sunny mornings. So beautiful sparkling in the dawn.

When I went, to go and collect some more wood for the tiny gallery from my milling friend, he told me how he had been amazed to come down that morning and see what looked like snow, lying everywhere around his yard! (apparently it was thicker than pictured here and everywhere!) It was not snow or frost….it was a mass of dandelion seeds…covered in dew! A wonder full sight!

No silkworms here in Scotland….but plenty of other bug-life emerging with the green. Here is a short clip of a speedy Garden Tiger Moth caterpillar dashing across my tyre garden the other day….so thrilled to know they are here and looking forward to spotting them later in the year!

Other stunning bugs I have spotted in the last few days are a large red damsel fly and some wonderful weevils….a green leaf weevil and a pine weevil…

Another ‘encounter’ I need to share is the sudden appearance of a large mushroom in the middle of my tyre ‘wheel’ garden.
Right under the back flipper of my Earth Turtle!!
It appeared out of nowhere and was already quite large when I first saw it! I thought my son had been mucking about and put something under the driftwood ‘fin’ to tease me….but no…here it was growing right out of the ground!
This felt significant so I went to try and identify the fungus and find out more about it. I was worried that it was a deadly one (being white) and the possible ‘story’ within saddened me. Death spurring my Earth Turtle on….
Now I am pretty much 100% sure that this is a Warty Cavalier mushroom. Rare in the UK and never reported in Scotland before!! This changes the story!!
My only possible explanation for this lies in the fact that it is growing under the driftwood fin. Perhaps the sun we have been having loosened/cracked the wood and the spore ‘fell out’. I love thinking of this tiny spore floating across the oceans (possibly from Russia/Siberia where these mushrooms are more common) and, after living in my driftwood collection for a few years, finding the conditions ‘just right’ at the back flipper of my Earth turtle, to grow!! (I have also used a lot of old bark as a method of weed reduction in the rockery area, so that is the kind of conditions they like.)
Thinking of calling this find in to some appropriate, mushroom data-collecting organisation, but as yet have been unable to find where one does this…..?

I have been sowing many seeds this spring. Among them a few hundred alder seeds, to plant later as wind break around our hill plot. This is the first time I have tried growing trees from seed (apart from the Montery Cypress seed which are sadly, as yet, showing no sign of germinating) The first alders are beginning to show. It amazes me that a huge tree begins as something so tiny….

Other news is that the elder tree that I transplanted, when I first began the tyre garden, is not dead!!
I accidentally ripped a root when I was digging it up and it was not looking good at all.
The whole point of planting the red and white elders at the entrance to my garden was to protect. It is my Celtic birth tree too. They are considered very sacred and killing them was not part of the plan at all! So that it looked as if it was dead was filling me with sadness….but it lives! Putting out little green shoots now…which also lightens my mood and encourages me on….I can look forward to seeing it thrive and grow, hopefully too reap its gifts as time goes on. Its flowers, berries and old branches for flutes.

On the creative side all the time I usually have available to play in the art den is spent working on building the tiny gallery. Any good weather is made use of and progress is slow and steady.

Nothing is as simple as it first appears and I am learning many lessons in patience and the actual art of joinery. I had thought I would have had the roof on by now, but working with this fresh-milled cedar holds many challenges! It has it’s own bends and wiggles….and changes with the temperature. The shou-sugi-ban technique also shrinks the measured timber…sometimes as much as 1 cm! So I am earning to work with the wood, but simply nothing is square!!
This project puts me very much in touch with my own hypocrisy too.
Here I am, a treesister, wielding my power tools and burning the wood with my gas torch. I often find myself in internal discussion over this. I love the way the grain is highlighted, brought out, celebrated, by burning. I justify the use of this technique, as in itself, it weather-proofs the timber without the use of chemical coatings….but it is hard to smell the burning without thinking of the deforestation of the planet.
The act of building also puts me back in touch with builder’s yards and the sheer enormity of human construction/consumption.
I comfort myself by recognising that I really am a tiny fish in this pond of criminal destruction, that the bulk of my wood has been locally sourced and that at least I am aware!
The little weevils also add to the story…for while beautiful, they are no friends to the trees either! They remind me of the beauty in the bigger picture….all in balance. It is not only about the trees, but also all the biodiversity they support.
My project being just another part of that.
Also that the entire purpose of this project is to share in celebration of all things Gaia and take this love out into the wider community….so I push on under the beautiful sky, witnessed only by the nature all around, my family and all those who see these posts!
The forecast is for more rain soon, so the roof will have to wait now until the next sunny day….

On the subject of creativity and trees…. I did manage also to complete my square for the global Treesister quilt in celebration of them. I posted it to the USA a couple of days ago. I hope it travels well.
It is being collectively created for 2020 Year of the Tree.
It came together quite intuitively and fluidly. I am quite pleased with the finished result! Constructed from a surviving square of my old yurt tarp, some bits and bobs that jumped to hand and an old ‘hag stone’ that I picked of the beach in Corfu, Greece years ago….

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