Monday, 16 May 2011

The heart of the woodland

On Sunday we went for a walk down to the woods, as we often do. The newt pool, which was so bubbling with life and activity just five weeks ago is now an empty sink of soggy leaves and mulch

I wonder what has happened to all those little creatures hurrying about in their underwater world. I hope they have found a safe place, but I suspect the tadpoles have simply died, they were nowhere near froglet stage last time I looked, though an online article here suggests they may have had time to develop lungs and little legs. We have had no rain at all, bar that one lovely downpour I reported a few days back and that did nothing to replenish this rain fed pool. However, elsewhere in the wood there was much to see, as the last stages of a very hot spring flourish.

There was nettle, a wonderful source of food for the peacock butterfly when in its caterpillar stage, and a beautiful plant in its own right in my view - such a clear shining green with leaves like zig zag hearts

Tiny little holly flowers, delicate as stars
speckled wood butterflies dancing their spring dance in the sunlight, then alighting on the ground where they almost disappear amongst last year's fallen leaves
wonderful foamy clusters of cow parsley, which is also flowering riotously in the hedgerows just now
and wild honeysuckle, with a fragrance so familiar yet still exotic. However slowly and softly you manage it, you can hardly bear to stop breathing in!
All these things, quietly getting on with their lives, providing food for countless little flying and buzzing things. They may not be showy but to me have a simple beauty that could be missed if one wasn't looking mindfully.

On Saturday we drove to Basingstoke for a relatives 50th birthday celebration. As I was not the one driving, I watched the roadside verges and hedgerows and saw that they too were overflowing with flowers like those above; honeysuckle clambering and tumbling in great mounds over trees, umbellifers, daisies and buttercups in swathes at the foot of hedges and rioting across untilled fields, the countryside a great nectar bar for all those little flying things that are so low on the food chain, yet so vital for so many reasons. It did my soul good to see such abundance.

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