Sunday, 1 March 2015

Parish Life - March 2015



I recently discovered an old book of my Mother’s, dating from 1939.  It was titled “Romany and Raq” written by the ‘Romany of the B.B.C.’ (a.k.a. G. Bramwell Evens). The book was full of old country lore and aphorisms.  For March, the writer described spring-cleaning in the country cottages, known as “cleaning down.”  Ordinary housework was “cleaning up.”

He goes on to think about cleaning up of the countryside “rubbish” and to comment that it is not often that you see a decaying mouse or a dead bird.  His explanation talked about “the sanitary department of the Universe.”  Owls, weasels and hawks pick up the weaker prey specimens.  Foxes and stoats remove surplus population (not always surplus if they are your own precious flock!)  Carrion crows and magpies scavenge road-kill.

Most ingenious are the Sexton beetles, so called because of the Sexton’s job of looking after the church and churchyard, often burying the dead.  These insects, black with orange markings, use strong jaws to dig a trench around a dead animal, such as a rabbit.  They dig another trench inside the first, filling up the original with soil from the second.  Gradually, the body sinks into the ground.  The female beetle then lays eggs in the carcass which eventually hatch and pick the body clean. He finishes with a quote from a countryman “God thinks o’ everythin’, even gettin’ the menial work done.”

There is no longer a Sexton at St. Giles but the Living Churchyard group help maintain the area around the church as a natural habitat. If you would like to be part of our enterprise in creating a haven for wildlife, our first session of the year is on Saturday 14th March, 9.30 a.m. to 12 noon.  We record flora and fauna to be found on the day and do a variety of practical tasks. All ages are very welcome; I read that youngsters can apply for a green Blue Peter badge if they are involved in Environmental activities. Tools and gloves, and refreshments will be available.   

Please come and enjoy a session looking after your local environment!  No grave-digging required!

Contributed by: Liz Cullen, Co-ordinator.