2 OCTOBER 1942, Page 14


IN some country places, where general goodwill has been enhanced by the war, resentment is arising against one example—to which previous reference has been made here—of inequality of sacrifice. There are a few households where cream, butter, eggs and poultry, including guinea- fowl and turkey, are being consumed in greater profusion than in peace- time. The reason is that, since regulations in regard to the sale of produce are thought vexatious, the selling of eggs, poultry and milk has been given up, and the problem has arisen how to deal with the excessive supplies. The problem has been solved in different ways by different producers. Some give their surplus to poorer neighbours, but some, on the other hand, think that the best way is to consume as much as possible within their own households ; to store innumerable eggs, to make their own butter and provide themselves with unlimited cream, using the skim to feed stock. The sum of produce so consumed is doubtless not great in the general sense, but such examples of luxury in the midst of austerity do a good deal of harm to the spirit of a district and are therefore worth the attention of authority.

Tree Surgery

In the spacious purlieus of a country house stand a number of exceptionally fine trees in which holes and clefts were appearing, notably in two big oaks that had been struck by lightning many years ago.

The owner has had resort to the art of tree surgery. The rotten wood was scraped away and the clefts filled with a special cement. When the

surgeon inspected the trees he had dealt with some years before, he decided that the trees were stronger than they ever had been. It is a delight to see the rolls of clean new growth flowing over the concrete, which here and there in smaller wounds has been completely covered and the sap flows freely through the new cambium. It is remarkable in the district how very large a number of oaks have been struck by lightning and how few other trees. I know perhaps a dozen oaks that have suffered in one district and not one other tree, though not so far off one sequoia suffered from what is called dispersed lightning stroke and one telegraph post. It has never, I think, been explained why the oak is peculiarly sensitive. It heads the list in all European countries except in the North, where pine forests flourish.

A Grateful Bird Here is a true tale showing how quickly birds respond to kind treat- ment. A blackbird was caught in a fruit net and released with no little difficulty, but it was then found that the top half of the beak was completely removed. The bird's saviour could not bear to destroy the wounded creature, and left it to take its chance. She found it the next day in a flourishing state, and saw it successfully unearth and swallow a worm in spite of the missing half of the beak. Presently the bird came into the house and followed her from room to room without shy- ness. The sad part of the story is that the sparrows, apparently irritated by its misfeature, took to mobbing it and making its life a burden.

Conventional Dogs

In a sort of amateur test of sporting dogs (made by some sportsmen amid the unprecedented host of partridge coveys) the dog that came out best was a poodle. The intelligence of this variety is as notable in the field as in the house. It is a born hunter and retriever, yet the sports- man who takes one to a serious shoot needs some nerve. All sorts of dogs hunt and retrieve well. The best I have known—in regard to fur if not feather—were an Alsatian and a cross between a retriever and a Great Dane. One tamed fox-cub of my acquaintance was a capable retriever.

In the Garden In a southern garden, where the American squash has been grown for some years from American seed, this year's crop was got from home- saved seed. The result has been a plant which, in flavour at any rate, is indistinguishable from the vegetable marrow. Apparently the two have crossed and the marrow, in Mendelian phrase, has proved " dominant." A second sowing from the crossbred plant should give interesting results. As to the new vegetable celtuce, the more I see and hear of it the better it appears. It is large and very hardy, and the stems of the lettuce-like leaves suggest celery to some and salsify to other gourmets. That new and quaint shrub which is a cross between Buddleia globosa and Veitchiana is still in bloom, proving a wonderful lure for autumn butterflies, which are in legion. W. BEACH THOMAS.

Postage on this issue : Inland and Overseas, rd.