Cults of Broadland
Fen raft spider
Let us venerate niche and otherness, local, patch-level occurrence – take the fen raft spider’s each simple eye, each leg hair sensing the water’s tension. All his drawn out care, a display of front legs in arcs across the meniscus, that moving slenderness, stop-start, from side to side. She watches while he grooms. Now receptive, they bob slowly. And his front legs flicker, vibrating all over her abdomen. She draws herself in so he can roll them on her back into their rippling.
There are studies concerned with presence, that harvest the mycorrhizal fungus essential for germination and growth at the Botanic Garden in Cambridge. All I understand is as far as I can see – June to July on a fen in Norfolk, peaty mud staining my knees, that yellowy-green, the broad-lip base leaf, its blend-in with the part-chewed sward, each little point off the one soft spike set on this floating ground. Milk parsley / swallowtail 7th – 11th July 2017 All cults must have their curses: may this curse of losses befall the bastard or bastards who dug out milk parsley at Hickling, taking with it as many as twenty or more swallowtail caterpillars. And may they one day, sometime soon, find themselves again under the breadth of a searing blue broadland sky, in t-shirts and shorts, or better yet, topless about their work, as the sap and hairs of giant hogweed catch them, so that they metamorphose to a blistered imago, all the shame bursting on their skin.
They’d daub the navel of each newborn with fulmar oil, a cliff-nester’s balm easy to blame, to latch on to as the St Kildan midwives’ own infant lockjaw, stored in gannet or sheep gut. Either that or their blades, unwashed and not first passed through flame. But what of all those before? Those that rowed out, cutting headlong into swells and gales to open some westerly ascetic distance, some almost-disappearance among a stink of fish and seafowl, then lit beacons from the highest point just to say from among the breakers, we are still here? Whatever the life sought there’s no loneliness for the spirit in this husbandry, under starlight, on this ground where that bacillus blooms.