Especially through Spring and early Summer – a common sight in the countryside are earthworks caused by that most prodigious of earth movers – the Common Mole. Often I see their excavations but rarely do I see the champion tunnelers out and about in broad daylight. Indeed, my ‘Belladonna Babe’ is thriving in her pot of ‘hand’ prepared soil – scooped directly off the top of a molehill. I’m grateful to “Diggory Delvet” for supplying the richest, crumbliest potting mix ever – it’s better than anything you can buy! With farm labourer-like hands, reddish snouts and real moleskin jackets – they are characterful, hardworking toilers of the soil; I respect Moles – I like them.
Preferring to stay out of direct sunlight on a sweltering hot day myself – I decided on another wander through Ravens’ Haven on Dartmoor – Sunday 5th June 2016.Near the edge of the wood – I came across a mole laid-out on top of an old tree stump. It was a dead mole but fascinating nonetheless; an opportunity to see this subterranean dweller above ground.
The Mole with hands held high as if surrendering to the light – looked like it was offered up as a sacrificial gift to the Sun. Despite its deadness – there was something rather moving about the little man – dare I say it – even beautiful, especially about its dappled situation at the edge of the wood.
I’m guessing the Ravens had carried it in from elsewhere on the Moor – and laid it to rest on top of their ‘table’. The deceased mole was in what I refer to as their larder area – and it is always a good place for finding other tell-tale signs of their presence!
I don’t think Moles are palatable to Ravens because they had left it as they’d found it; only its jaw was noticeably askew and flattened. Disorientated by bright light – Mole had probably strayed onto the busy reservoir road – and waddled ‘straight’ into harm’s way.
While the other inhabitants of Ravens’ Haven appeared to have gone metaphorically underground during the heat of the afternoon – the area of the tree stump was buzzing and fizzing with activity. With vital work to do – a squadron of attendant ‘blue jackets’ busied themselves with Mole.
I found a stick in the shape of a sickle –
and I gathered a harvest of pristine inky-blue feathers – and I picked-up an empty nest fallen from a Hawthorn tree. Cupped in a bed of moss and dried leaves – the spun lining was made from pony hair.Back in the wide open space of Walkhampton Common – I stopped-off at the watering hole on the main road. In the shadow of Sharpitor – a pair of cows cooled-off in the shallows.
I pondered what it must be like to be a Mole and live your whole life scurrying in the darkness below ground – digging endless tunnels. It seems such an arduous, limited life and for the most part a solitary one. To not see all the beauty and light above and to feel the warmth of the Sun on your back – I really can’t imagine a mole’s existence. If there is no light at the end of the tunnel – then maybe death is easier if you’re a Mole? Sort of home from home – an eternal blackness but without the work. RIP Moley.