From troubles of the world, we turn to …

… not, on this occasion, Frank Harvey’s Ducks:

When God had finished the stars and whirl of coloured suns
He turned His mind from big things to fashion little ones;
Beautiful tiny things (like daisies) He made, and then
He made the comical ones, in case the minds of men
Should stiffen and become
Dull, humourless and glum,
And so forgetful of their Maker be
As to take even themselves — quite seriously.
Caterpillars and cats are lively and excellent puns:
All God’s jokes are good When God had finished the stars and whirl of coloured suns
He turned His mind from big things to fashion little ones;
Beautiful tiny things (like daisies) He made, and then
He made the comical ones in case the minds of men
Should stiffen and become
Dull, humourless and glum,
And so forgetful of their Maker be
As to take even themselves — quite seriously.
Caterpillars and cats are lively and excellent puns:
All God’s jokes are good — even the practical ones!
And as for the duck, I think God must have smiled a bit
Seeing those bright eyes blink on the day He fashioned it.
And he’s probably laughing still at the sound that came out of its bill! 

Frank Harvey was a prisoner-of-war and inmate of Holzminden Prison when he composed that. And, yes, Malcolm has been this way before.

Similarly, yesterday, Malcolm was incarcerated in a metal box (made in Wolfsburg) and whisked from Harrogate to York, and then on to London.

At several points along the road there were cheering glimpses of ducks. More often there were mole-hills. Lots of.

So, from troubles of the road (and a fine late lunch at the George in Stamford) Malcolm turned to matters talpine (Talpa: Latin, “mole”). Actually, Malcolm was on the point of congratulating himself on formulating a “new word”, only to find that the spoilsports at the Oxford English Dictionary had a precedent:

talpine adj. pertaining to the moles, of the sub-family Talpinæ.
1860   R. G. Mayne Expos. Lexicon Med. Sci.,   Talpinus,..talpine.

Yorkshire moles seem to prefer the grass banks of roads, and build on a linear principle. There are stretches of the A59 which seem particularly well-excavated. Have the moles learned, by bitter experience, to avoid the tilled fields, and now seek a safer, if not quieter life along the verge?

Yet the greatest proliferation of moles (or rather their mole-hills) seemed to be further south, in Lincolnshire. Areas around Colsterworth, and the upper reaches of the River Witham apparently amounted to moley metropolises.

black mole hungryLast autumn there were reports such as:

An explosion in mole numbers threatens to turn thousands of lawns into mountain ranges overnight, uprooting prized flowers and burying manicured turf beneath unsightly mounds of soil.

Soggy weather in late spring and early summer created ideal breeding conditions for the garden pests, softening the ground for males to dig tunnels just below the surface in search of mates.

Redfellow Hovel, with its far-from-sprawling acres, is free from such disturbance: no self-respecting mole would take on solid London clay.

Even so, to extrapolate Frank Harvey’s theology, if God had intended clipped suburban lawns, he would not have created the mole.

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Filed under Britain, leisure travel, Literature

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