Ladydale Diary

St. Josephat, 2020

This has been the weirdest of weeks in terms of weather. Hot, humid, overcast. Brooding. Portentous. And then yesterday evening, while I was teaching an online class on Othello and had just mentioned Iago’s role as a diabolus, all hell broke loose. A blinding flash of lightning was followed by a huge clap of thunder and then the lights went out and the internet connection to my class was lost. It reminded me, while I’m waxing weird in post-halloween fashion, of a talk I was giving in an auditorium in Portugal on the Catholicism of The Lord of the Rings. As soon as the doom-laden utterance “Sauron” left my lips, there was a power outage. As one who has more than a modicum of sympathy with Ned Ludd, I am convinced that there is a ghost in every machine, or what some might call a gremlin in the works.


In any event, the weather has been decidedly warm, so much so that I hesitate to do much-needed yardwork around the overgrown duckpond in fear that the serpents might have re-emerged from hibernation, lulled from sleep by this Indian summer.

One consequence of the strange weather has been the arrival of a flock of over twenty goldfinches, all bereft of their summer plumage, who have descended on our bird feeder en masse for a few days now. We have never seen so many at one time, never more than two at once, and usually in the spring and summer. I can only presume that they have stopped on their migration south, confused by the Florida-like warmth and humidity. It remains to be seen whether they will remain once things cool down.

As I write, another recent and first-time arrival, the female purple finch, is at the feeder. This morning I’ve seen woodpeckers, nuthatches and all the usual suspects, in addition to the goldfinch gang. And of course the chipmunks and squirrels.

While I’m speaking of critters, I was also afforded a glorious view of our local owl a couple of days ago as it flew right over my head. And then there’s the welcome presence of the neighbourhood bats, eating their fill of mosquitoes, not that the latter have ever been a major blight at Ladydale, a boon and a blessing that I attribute to the biodiversity which our chemical-free approach affords. Our pond has its fill of dragonflies and dragonfly larvae, as well as frogs of various types, and snakes. It’s an extremely fortunate mosquito that survives all of these natural predators.

On the domestic front, it was Leo’s name day on Tuesday, which we celebrated in low-key fashion, saving the full celebration until Martinmas (yesterday), an excuse to have a pre-Advent and pre-Thanksgiving feast in a dining room that Evangeline had lit with numerous candles.

It was also Veterans Day of course, which we did not do much to commemorate this year, though I did make a point of praying for both of my grandfathers who were veterans of World War One.

The online teaching load is more manageable at the moment (Othello for Memoria College yesterday and The Merchant of Venice for Red Cultural in Chile tomorrow), enabling me to make good progress on the book, my history of Catholic England. I’ve now written 70,000 words and we’ve reached the late eighteenth century. The finishing line is in sight! I’m hoping to deliver the manuscript to the publisher by Christmas (God willing).

This morning, I wrote an essay entitled “Othello in a Nutshell” for the Imaginative Conservative and have recorded all three podcasts for the Inner Sanctum. Check them out!


This week’s featured image, taken by Susannah, is of a tree across the creek, ablaze with autumnal flame, which I can see as I write, though it’s lost its lustre since the photograph was taken.