There are times when it is hard to sit down and write coherently. As you can see we have a picture of a bee on a thistle today. Bees are pretty common – I mean, you find them buzzing around all over the place. You would really think then, wouldn’t you, that you could just type – identify bee – into Google and within 0.0256 seconds or so you would have around 5,000,000 answers, each one of which would, naturally, be fully pertinent to bees in general and specific to the one in the photo.
It is my sad duty to inform you that life, with or without a capital letter, is never going to be that simple. Let the moon trine Mercury. Let Jupiter accidentally pass through an auspicious and harmonious opposition to Venus. Let the wind blow high, let the wind blow low – life moves on, not in a straightforward, easy to understand way, but in a way completely calculated to complicate and confuse.
Today’s picture, therefore, is of a Field Cuckoo Bee – or any one of the other two hundred and fifty different types of bees in Britain.
I did try to ask him who he was when I took the photo – but he was much too busy to answer.
Just look at the time! It was only a moment ago we were saying happy new year to everyone – and now it seems that it won’t be long before we have to do it again. Where has the time gone? Do you think he ever gets tired just going round and round, year after year? Perhaps that’s why we invented seasons – to help to keep him from getting bored and hurrying on, just to get this year over, in the hope that next year will be more interesting.
We are starting to see the results of all those blossoms Spring brought out of the green-house this year. We don’t want to count our chickens before they hatch – or pick our fruit before it ripens, and anything can happen between now and then – but things are looking good.
Last year we collected a small jar of wild cherries and poured a generous helping, or a thrave, as they used to say in medieval times, of brandy, with a few heaped spoonfuls of sugar, over them. The result was a very cherry flavoured brandy and some very brandy flavoured cherries.
If the weather pulls its weight for a few more months – we might just need a bigger jar this year.
This week we had a double dose of excitement – not only did we have a steam train pottering down our line, but the engine-in-charge was none other than The Flying Scotsman. We waited with bated breath for the event, heralded, as usual, by a vast cloud of smoke and steam. The weather which, until that moment, had maintained a bright, if somewhat cloudy, visage – immediately turned dull and grey. This was, no doubt, to compliment the sombre majesty of the occasion. Impressed by this aura of gravitas, I took special care in framing and focusing the photograph, then – I pressed the shutter button.
Electrons leapt into action, and with the speed of light the camera stretched and yawned, then climbed reluctantly out of bed, fumbled for its slippers and reached for its dressing gown – all the time muttering that it really couldn’t see how it could possibly maintain the level of mental agility I seemed to expect of it, unless it could count on a clear twenty three hours of sound sleep every day. It then wandered through to take my picture.
The Scotsman, meanwhile, had been flying along. You see, he has just had a major refurbishment, signed up for the gym, and had his roots done – he was feeling as frolicsome as a new born lamb.
The fuzziness of the image is the result of this lack of communication. I, personally, cannot wait for the Internet Of Things.
This year, for all its faults, has been a very good year for blossom. Almost everything in our locality has really pulled out all the stops and worked hard to fill every spare space with blooms. Wild Roses are a case in point. The hedgerows are splattered with white and pink with no thought for propriety, or even perspective.
Roses specialise in scent and symbolism – and often in both. It is quite probable that the rose was first recognised for its olfactory capabilities over a thousand years ago in Persia. Persia is long gone, but before they went, the Persians assimilated Bulgaria into their empire and the centre of ‘roseness’ moved out to the colonies. Even today Bulgaria is still big in roses. It takes a bit more than two thousand rose flowers to produce a gram of the end product.
Naturally, we’ve used the rose to represent whatever was fashionable at the time, so it has had a long and chequered symbolic past. My friend Google called my attention to one that he found interesting. In the, fairly recent, past the rose meant confidentiality, so a rose was often hung over the dinner table to reassure diners that everything said would remain private. Even today, we call a ceiling ornament a rose – even if it’s just the fitting that holds up the electric light.
Today’s picture is of Self Heal, it grows pretty much everywhere – especially in lawns. It doesn’t grow very tall, so nice short grass is its preferred environment. It gets its name from when it was used to heal wounds – in those bygone, olden days when wounds were healed with this sort of thing.
Most of the people Google knows note that it is edible. When you’re dealing with things herbal – it’s edible – is a euphemism for it won’t kill you immediately. No one really, ever eats it. I mean, what would you eat? You’d need a good acre of it just to make a salad topping. But, apparently, people did chop it up and make a drink from it.
This started me wondering. It wasn’t safe to drink the water unless it was boiled. Boiled water tastes yeugh. So anything that introduced even a slight flavour had to be useful. Therefore hot drinks were likely to be seasonal. This is where beer and wine came into their own – barley could be kept all year, so beer could be made all year round. Wine had the double advantage of not only did it keep, but it actually improved in the keeping.
So the terrible dilemma Marco Polo faced was – whether to have another Bud, a glass of Chardonnay, perhaps – or discover China?
Life is full of opportunities. This wouldn’t be so bad if they would organise themselves in some way. Well, in any way would be good. Most of these chances to change our lives happen on Facebook. Does posting an inspirational quote count as doing something constructive, I wonder? I mean, you have done your part to inspire millions, possibly billions, of people – who would otherwise just be frittering their lives away watching cat videos and emotionally targeted advertisements for whatever it was you clicked on last.
The important thing about cat videos (and dog videos, too, of course) is that the cats are usually doing something. There are very few where we are invited to get all gooey about a cat staring at a phone watching people doing cute stuff. This would suggest that cats, at least, are inspired by all the inspirational messages their videos are sandwiched between.
It is at this point in our analysis that the awful truth rears its ugly head. If the uplifting advice posted on Facebook is intended for cats, but the cats are doing all this cutesy, cuddly stuff anyway.
Is Facebook really just a waste of time?
You know those really irritating burs that stick on everything from socks to the dog? Well, this is what they look like when they’re in flower – before they get to that hard-to-remove bur stage. Aside from the names you’ll, no doubt, give it as you’re struggling to remove these burs – you could call it Herb Bennet or you could call it Wood Avens, or Coleroot, Colewort, Cloveroot, St.Benedict’s Herb, Bennet’s Root, or even Old Man’s Whiskers. What’s in a name?
As many gardeners will attest, it has good strong roots and is very difficult to remove once it takes hold in a shady flower bed. But hold on – before you spray it with weed killer – guess what? It’s edible. Not only that but those tough roots have a nice smell of cloves and are very good for keeping the moths away from your clothing.
However, being ruled by Jupiter, it really shines when it comes to mad dogs and poisonous snakes. It’s even better if you have the odd evil spirit that you need protection against – and it’s good for mouth ulcers, too.