Rural Rhymes

Nature’s Best

By Seamus Dockery

I went for a walk one morning, it was early in the spring,

with its melody of the rippling stream I heard a blackbird sing.

New lambs skipped in the morning sun behind my neighbour’s wall

and daffodils they raised their heads and stood so proud and tall.

A wild fox barked across the moors while some crows flew from a tree

and a squirrel pranced from branch to branch, he was so wild and free.

A gentle breeze was blowing, my old friend was home again,

it was the gentle tones of the cuckoo to herald back the spring.

A badger shuffled through the undergrowth at the edge of a tiny wood

and a wild deer glided across a field as if he knew he could.

Some wild geese flew across the sky, their sad calls pierced the air

and just on the lane ahead of me I got a quick glance at a hare.

Down in the sleepy valley I hear a corncrake

and count eight swans swimming upon a peaceful lake.

As I walk a little further, suddenly I see a wise old barn owl glaring down at me.

He was perched up on an old oak tree, majestic and so tall

and way off in the distance I heard a curlew call.

On the green bank by the river otters were at play

and some frogs they croaked in unison as if to greet the day.

Nature is so beautiful and best of all it’s free

to be enjoyed by everyone, like you and them and me.

Seamus has released a book of poetry and prose, Smile A While, with all proceeds going to Mayo/Roscommon Hospice.

Chef Tip

January is the month I always seem to be making dinners out of pantry staples. The reason is two-fold: my household always overindulges on rich foods for the last few weeks of the year, and - after Christmas - cash flow is always a slight issue! Cooking with tins of tomatoes, beans, lentils and pastas are good ways to stay within our tight January budget and it’s also a great way to get vital nutrients into our bodies after several weeks of living off of chocolate, wine and gravy! Last night I made a Malaysian-style coconut noodle soup (called laksa) from a half pack of egg noodles, a tin of coconut milk, some chicken stock, fish sauce and soy sauce and curry spices. I threw in the vegetables I had on hand (carrots and savoy cabbage) and topped the creamy noodle soup with a soft boiled egg. Wintery perfection.

Growing wild

with Dr Catherine Keena, Teagasc countryside management specialist

Cow parsley.

Look out for cow parsley leaves now in late winter at the base of hedges and other shady places, appearing above ground before grasses and other vegetation grow. Fresh green, deeply divided fern-like triangular leaves in basal clusters crowd out other ground flora. These will develop into plants, a metre high, hosting noticeable displays of white flowers in early summer. Related to culinary parsley, cow parsley is edible but must not be confused with similar poisonous plants. Early growth and large leaf cover shade out other plants, contributing to cow parsley being a very common plant in hedge margins - part of our native Irish biodiversity.

Quote of the week

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Picture of the week

Clóda Corcoran, four, helping her Daddy feed the cattle on their farm at Granard Co Longford

Number of the week: 5

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