We went birding Saturday morning, up in the North Pennines, to look for black grouse. We found the grouse (I’ll write another post about that), but also felt we’d wandered into some dark dimension.
First, hand-lettered road signs warned us to Beware! Lambs!
Hard not to imagine every crunch on the gravel as a mammoth-sized lamb about to prance and gambol me to ribbons.
Then down one of the farm lanes, this.
On a fence.
Tied with pink ribbon.
Showing off their little teeny hands.
Finch says this is a throwback to the days of peasants and evil spirits, where the moles were some kind of warning. The internet tells me that the history of hanging them on the fence came about because traditional molecatchers were paid per mole, and no farmer would want to be cheated by paying for someone else’s dead moles. That seems a little too pragmatic. And doesn’t explain the pink ribbon.
I found myself making up a tuneless little song that mostly went Run Away from the Molecatcher! Run Away from the Molecatcher! I imagined a hunched over old man, dragging his little mole traps and skein of pink ribbon, moving from farm to farm in the dark, hanging little corpses as some kind of ancient curse.