It is always a surprise to look through the Egg’s door for a glimpse of how special the ordinary can be. This is the last official post and the culmination of a year of observances, and I can mark the occasion most meaningfully with no special message at all.
There may be more posts as I catch up with unedited video moments from earlier in the year and a categorisation of the narratives so as to reveal different threads of thought and observation as we determine the future of the Egg. Thank you from the Beadle as my role here comes to a close.
50˚47’08.10″N x 1˚24’27.91″W
July 13th, 2014
Last year the Samphire grew thickly on the marsh beside the Egg, but this year there is none at all in prospect here. The mud bank has lost height and has been covered in a thick layer of green algae for the last few weeks, which may have had an effect. My sense overall is of the width of marsh narrowing.
50˚47’08.10″N x 1˚24’27.91″W
July 17th, 2013
The crab sat unmoving for over an hour in the shade of a three inch high mud cliff, stirring only when the sun rose sufficiently to pierce his shadowy retreat.
A family of shell duck made their way noisily to the Egg this afternoon to explore the river bank here. They reputedly breed in rabbit burrows hereabout, and I have been looking without success for their nesting sites amongst the homes of the local lagomorpha. It would appear I am now too late.
Fashion student (now graduate) Sue Carley made me a pair of DIY jeans from unbleached cotton – Dye It Yourself. A small oak ‘bush’ beside the Egg (behind me in the photo) provided galls to create the dye and its individual leaves the templates for a pattern (drawn in hot wax then ironed out). An oak T shirt completed the ensemble. A full scale drawing of the trousers uses watercolour from the same source.
The over wintering Peacock butterfly laid its eggs on the upper leaves of the stinging nettles at 50˚47’10.29″ N x 1˚24’26.60″ W and they are all now hatching. The caterpillars eat on the leaves through five stages of growth, moulting their skins with each ‘instar’ and protecting themselves from predators by weaving communal silk tents. Soon they will pupate and I shall be on the lookout for the chrysalis.
Communal silk tent of the Peacock caterpillar
Moulted skins from the Peacock caterpillar and the remains of a communal tent
The native earth of the estuary is mid toned brown in colour, a sort of Beaulieu buff which I washed and spun, then dried in the summer sun, as part of an ongoing collection of refined sediment. It is nothing out of the ordinary, a commonplace and everyday expression of the local colour of its place.
It is a collection of clays, marls and sand laid down around 33 million years ago in the late Eocene period, which was named for the dawn (eos) of a new (kainos) climate bringing different fauna and flora. Plus ça change….
Patches of iron oxide from chalybeate springs stain the generally browner mud at regular intervals along the littoral. John Ruskin, referring to another chalybeate spring in Tunbridge Wells in Kent, felt that the purest form of iron was its oxide, and that nature would eventually return even the polished steel of the finest engineering achievements of his time, back to dusty rust*. Through a process of washing and refining, I have captured a few grams of the lightest and finest reddish particles as a token of mortality, of change and a remembrance of the work of a Victorian writer.
*A Lecture Delivered at Tunbridge Wells, February, 1858: http://www.readbookonline.net/read/2781/12001/
In marking a mooring post with the motif of the Egg, I hope to make new homes for solitary wasps and other singular creatures in need of a secure place to abide, long after the Egg has moved on.