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This report is taken from PN Review 249, Volume 46 Number 1, September - October 2019.

From the Journals, 28 July 2002
‘And there is the owl’
R.F. Langley
with Andrew Brewerton in Anversa degli Abruzzi, Italy

Sunday – still overcast but not raining. We drive off first to San Pelino at Corfinio and then on to San Clemente a Casauria. The cream white portico, three arches, and the bronze doors of 1191. The short way up to this is between gardens full of trees… oleander, bamboo, two palms, willow and pine.

In a hole in the paving there is some business. You can see from a distance a patch of coloured pellets, rice in fact, from weddings, coloured blue, pink, yellow, green and white. Ants have collected this, but at the moment, they are bringing the grains up out of their hole… some small workers and some larger workers, soldier class ants, half as long as a fingernail.* These have large flat heads, a little bigger even than their abdomens, with a long waist (petiole) in between the two. The abdomen is not quite a globe, but an oval, shiny, with hairs over the shine. The whole ant is brown. Squared jaws, easily carrying the rice grain. The small-headed workers seem to be carrying smaller white bits too.

Birds sing, that tumbling bright song, which I know is that of a goldfinch because I saw one earlier on a bare treetop in front of San Pelino, beyond the carpark, clear and coloured. I had not recognised it at first, because it is so frequent here, and sung from trees, out of foliage.

Inside San Clemente, the ponderous stone volumes, squared, tall pillars, square-sectioned arches, ...


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