The Canada geese at Finsley Gate have hatched their young and today they took them on a journey around their home. They progressed across the concrete, nibbling at mosses and grasses growing between the cracks, and seeming to enjoy tiny fragments of rust from an old stop tap cover. I followed them into the former kitchen garden of the canal keepers house, where they all tugged enthusiastically at jungle like swathes of ‘sticky’ stemmed cleavers or goosegrass as it is sometimes known, because it is so loved by them.
The former kitchen garden of the wharf keepers house has been rescued from a dense entangled thicket of brambles, but any sort of new growth is waiting yet for some warmth to the soil and air. The mature cherries on site are in bud though, and across the canal great yellow sunbursts of renegade forsythia, pepper perspectives by the bridge. Red flowering currant, native to the west coast of the USA, is creeping through railings bounding the freshly demolished site of the Lambert Howarth & Son factory across the canal.
Every Monday Craig makes a round trip from Sheffield to assess the structural stability of the buildings still standing at Finsley Gate. Surrounded by litter on land and on water, we reflected on the fascination of what gets thrown out and on the happy associations these discards can sometimes trigger – for Craig the sighting a Raleigh Burner covered in mud at the bottom of a drained lock (the hot transport item of his childhood). I got all enthused over a marble.
As I was balanced on top of the Egg this morning refixing the Egg’s chimney, Roger and Judy on a morning stroll called across from the bridge and I invited them over to take a closer look. We spoke about the need to spend time looking, if we are to ever really notice anything about our surroundings and blue tit landing on a nearby bush triggered their insights into local wildlife. Beside the canal they had spotted merganser ducks that I associate with the sea shore, as well as wagtails, an owl and once a fleeting glimpse of a kingfisher. On opening the curtains one morning a fox was walking along their back alley wall. I’ll be on the look out for all these neighbours now myself.
I am finding my feet in Burnley Wood at the start of a six month adventure with local people, as a sort of guide and caretaker to Finsley Gate Wharf; where the Exbury Egg will reside as a symbol for the importance of all life, since ‘Everything Comes from the Egg’.
I’ll be living up the road with a view from the back providing a window onto the Wharf itself, beyond the back alley from where much rubbish flung onto the site has been desperately propelled. I wonder if we can come to value the nature of this supposed waste ground, where two resident swans today part build their nest and home on such refuse?