Thursday, July 12, 2007

rabbit, baby and tree, aaron's rod

In the street, I pass a fat, ginger-coloured rabbit. As it nibbles the grass verge, it looks at me without much interest. It is clearly a pet and not a wild rabbit. After a while it lopes off and hides under a car. I believe I might know its owner but that would only be a guess. How do you capture a rabbit? Should I grab its ears and carry it that way, as I used to see farmers carrying rabbits for sale in Spanish market places? This afternoon I meet the supposed owner in the street. People think it's mine but it isn't," she says. " It lives on the other side of the road. It's always getting out. It's called Biggles."

A woman takes her baby out of its pushchair and carries it to the trunk of one of the spreading copper beeches in the Grove. She introduces the child to the tree. It pats the bark and laughs.

The tall, yellow spikes of Mullein, also known as Aaron's Rod, Verbascum thapsus, are appearing just now in neglected and uneglected gardens. It is a native perennial, a wild flower, but looks like a garden plant. Geoffrey Grigson, in An Englishman's Flora, says "It is a plant that cannot be overlooked," and quotes Henry Lyte (1578): "The whole toppe with its pleasant yellow floures, sheweth like to a wax candle or taper cunningly wrought." According to another book its leaves were once used to treat bronchial troubles and smoked in a pipe as herbal tobacco."

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