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Digging - Squirrel Nutkin

By Ashleylister @ashleylister

2016 UK Coin 50p Silver Proof Coloured Beatrix Potter - Squirrel ...
A Little Squirrel (Fun Poem) - Poem by David Harris
All summer long he collected his nuts Burying them here and there When it came to dig them up He couldn’t remember where He hid his treasure store
The moral of this tale Be sure, there is one indeed If you want to bury your treasures And you ain’t that smart Draw a little map, that will help for a start
The fattest squirrel I’ve ever seen lives in our neighbourhood. It favours the back gardens of half a dozen houses of which ours is one. It runs along the tops of the fence panels that separate us from next door, the narrow alleyway and adjacent properties. I’ve watched it climb our buddleia to reach the fence of the garden opposite. It moves fast, it is cute and although it’s grey, my grandson and I call it Nutkin, after the Beatrix Potter character. This one still has a complete tail. Its main occupation is eating and digging. Nuts are buried only to be dug up again.
Most of our garden was removed a couple of years ago. Neither of us are able-bodied enough to  do much digging or maintenance and it had become overgrown and neglected. Birds were responsible for the planting of unwanted sycamore trees. The holly which used to look so pretty ‘in berry’ had died on one side. The dark magenta berberis was beautiful but too prickly to deal with.Weeds were knee high and everything was woven together with brambles and some sticky grass our dog had collected from walks on the nearby field.It had become a messy, unusable area. We needed a practical, easy-care courtyard, somewhere pleasant to sit out and safe for the grandchildren to play. We found the right person for the job, no, not Alan Titchmarsh, but someone with equal expertise and vision, and he was happy to carry on in our absence – we took off to Scotland. It is a good idea to escape the noise of home improvement tools, particularly mechanical diggers, chainsaws and lump hammers.
When we returned there had been much digging, much removing and now there was much sunlight reaching previously inaccessible places. Not a thorn or prickle remained, it looked wonderful, and that’s before it was finished. We had two small garden areas, easy to plant and look after, needing nothing more than a trowel and a kneeling mat, and lots of space for children to run about. Planters and flower pots placed randomly could be moved about as required. The end result was and is perfect, just right for us non-gardeners.
The other day I decided to re-pot a worn out houseplant and see how it faired outside. It was either that or bin it. (This activity could be listed under ‘Things to do in Lockdown.) As I prepared an outside flower pot by removing something that didn’t matter to create space, I kept finding buried monkey nuts. Squirrel Nutkin. I left them out for him / her.
Seamus Heaney’s famous Digging
Between my finger and my thumb   The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.
Under my window, a clean rasping sound   When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:   My father, digging. I look down
Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds   Bends low, comes up twenty years away   Stooping in rhythm through potato drills   Where he was digging.
The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft   Against the inside knee was levered firmly. He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep To scatter new potatoes that we picked, Loving their cool hardness in our hands.
By God, the old man could handle a spade.   Just like his old man.
My grandfather cut more turf in a day Than any other man on Toner’s bog. Once I carried him milk in a bottle Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up To drink it, then fell to right away Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods Over his shoulder, going down and down For the good turf. Digging.
The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge Through living roots awaken in my head. But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests. I’ll dig with it.
Seamus Heaney (1939 – 2013)
 Thanks for reading. Stay safe and enjoy the sunshine, Pam x Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook


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