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"The month of May is a time of worms"

Share on FacebookShare on WhatsAppShare on TelegramShare on X (Twitter)”Månaden maj är morkulltid” skrev Vilhelm Moberg i ”Bondeåret”. Som på beställning flög en morkulla över mitt huvud en mild och vindstilla afton för några kvällar sen, alldeles efter skymningen. Moberg igen: ”Då flyger skymningsfågeln sin led i […]

"The month of May is the time of the worm" wrote Vilhelm Moberg in "The Peasant Year". As if on cue, a morkulla over my head on a mild and windless evening a few evenings ago, just after dusk. Moberg again:

"Then the twilight bird flies its line at the height of the crowns of the trees, perhaps faster than any other winged creature. And the peculiar sound of the mole - grunt, grunt, crackle, crackle - sounds like nature's own voice in that season when the fields are fermenting and bubbling with life."

Listen to the sound of the mole here.

In Blekinge, the mole was called draw, and in Skåne it went by the name hazel grouse. Already Sven Nilsson stated in Foglarna from 1858 that morkulla means marsh girl (or forest girl) because mor is an old word for bog or marsh and kulla means girl.

Morkulla (Scolopax_rusticola). Photo: JJ Harrison, CC BY-SA license
Morkulla (Scolopax_rusticola). Photo: JJ Harrison, CC BY-SA license

It used to be common to hunt marmots in spring, but it is since 1999 prohibited in Sweden due to the EU Birds Directive which prohibits hunting of birds during the breeding season. This is what Moberg has to say about the characteristic call of the groundhog and the hunting of the groundhog, whose meat is considered by many to be a delicacy:

"Just as dusk begins to fall, the shooter stands on his pass, a small clearing in the woods. Here is the dragon, here the dragon has passed through all the years, and here it passes through this year too. [...] After an evening on the pass, the shooter still has this sound in his ear: it follows him in the dream of the night, and it becomes for him a revelation in the tones of the bright spring forest.

An evening of gopher on a pass in mild weather - that's the perfection of spring."

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