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Riddle-me-ree

Riddle-me-ree
My first is in stalk and also in stem.
My second is me, not you, him or them.
My third is in toil but never in work.
My fourth is in thrive but never in shirk.
My fifth is in eels but just not in fish.
My sixth is in rhubarb, a succulent dish.
My seventh’s in wanting but never in need.
My eighth and my ninth are common in deed. 
My tenth is in dirt and also in dust.
Follow this rhyme, then guess it you must.
Just look at the picture, the leaves are the clue,
I’ve made it as simple as I can for you.  
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Rhododendron

rhododendrons-2020-05-22-3648x2736-1

Blossoms cascaded,
Downhill unaided,
Falling ballistic,
Pallette artistic.

Nature emergent,
Joyous and urgent,
Overflow spilling,
Vibrant and willing.

Ocean wave crashing,
On the rocks dashing,
Richly chromatic,
Passion dramatic.

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Greater Celandine or Swallowort

Greater Celandine or Swallowort
Greater Celandine or Swallowort

Swallows return to build a nest,
From far off lands to take their rest.
To feast on summer’s bounteous fare,
And show their mastery of the air.

From stream and pool, small beaks are filled,
Under the eves their nest to build.
Then line with down this fortress grey,
A home wherein their eggs to lay.

And see the Greater Celandine,
Whose yellow blooms like small suns shine.
‘Twill blossom so until the day,
Once more our swallows go away.

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Spring in Full Swing

The Trees In the Wood
The Trees In the Wood

When winter’s frosty footsteps roamed our wood.
Through filigreed naked trunks we could
See how our hill arose against the sky,
Its undergrowth grey seared and dry.

But Spring’s verdure has coloured in the gaps.
What was overt, for modesty perhaps,
Has, over all, a mantle green been thrown,
To hide inside nature unknown.

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A Seat in the Sun

Hawthorn Blossom-in-Waiting
Hawthorn Blossom-in-Waiting

The Blackbird flutes mid leafy tree,
To keep his anonymity.
While we below will not guess wrong
But know him by his joyous song.

On dry Oak twig, new leaflets burst.
Their flint spear sheath, the breeze disbursed
And catkin flowers their pollen cast
Adrift, in seas of air so vast.

Green Hawthorn’s boughs where sunlight gleams,
Tight wrapped as fists your blossom dreams.
Against the day when April’s shower,
Brings, in profusion, your Mayflower.

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Bluebells

New Bluebells
New Bluebells

The daffodils are weary now.
They’ve nodded their heads off for Spring.
Their bonnets will be packed away,
‘Cause yellow’s not the latest thing.

Now under bush and under leaf,
Some nascent shoots start to appear.
Their folded blooms show hints of blue,
Surmounting each short sea green spear.

A little sun, a little rain,
A little time must pass as well.
Their blossoms swell and then unfold,
Displaying fresh, a bright bluebell.

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The Strangest Times

Blackthorn
Blackthorn

When Blackthorn’s white and Hawthorne’s green
Together in the hedge are seen,
And Old Sol to his zenith climbs,
We live now in the strangest times.

When snowdrops from the snow have fled.
When blackbird rakes leaves for his bed.
When Spring the yearly quarter chimes,
We live now in the strangest times.

When crows call as they wing their way.
When rooks wheel ‘round as so they may.
When words align in metered rhymes,
We live now in the strangest times.

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Hope

Gorse
Gorse

Sometimes we look at swirling mist.
No path, no signpost, can exist.
When aimless wandering seems our lot.
What once was sure is now forgot.

The way ahead, a hopeless task,
There are no questions left to ask.
No answers seem to bring relief,
No faith, no comfort, no belief.

But hope will not be so mislaid,
To outstretched hand, it will give aid.
When lost in life’s kaleidoscope,
Stretch out, reach out, there’s always hope

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Winter Winds

Daffodils In The Woods
Daffodils In The Woods

Blow harsh winds and howl your worst,
The oaks sleep, uncaring.
Leafless twigs will wait for spring,
‘Til their leaves they’re bearing.

Down below the noise and haste,
Nature is arousing.
Daffodils in gold and green,
Are waking from their drowsing.

Send below a vagrant breeze.
Set old brown leaves prancing,
Ivy leaves a-shiver and
Daffodils to dancing.

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The Mystery of the Disappearing Brownie

EmptyPlateAndCoffee
EmptyPlateAndCoffee

Oh, chocolate brownie, where have you gone?
There was one on the plate, now there’s none.
Did you crumble away like a mountain range,
Gradually succumbing to geological change?

Where you kidnapped by little green men
And whisked back in time to who knows when?
If they found you, would dinosaurs know what to do,
Could it be a pterodactyl has eaten you?

Is your disappearance part of life’s rich mosaic,
Or is the answer so much more prosaic?
Is the empty plate not a mystery but really a clue,
Is the denouement just that I’ve eaten you?

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Through the Window in Winter

Daffodils
Daffodils

You stand there. The cold rain dripping down.
Your flower buds wait their right time.
Those blooms now open, each a cold wet crown,
Weep sadly in a voiceless mime.

I stand here. The rain drips down outside.
Your flowers bow and seem to cry.
The wind blows cold, yet there you must abide.
Here, inside, warm and dry am I.

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I’ve been Ill …

I’ve been in bed with the doctor and the antibiotics. It’s been a tight squeeze.
I’ve not slept, not eaten. Don’t want to. No interest.
And the weird dreams! Lucky I can’t remember most of them.
The one that scared me half to death, was the one where I was in a party of slavers, making our way down through Africa from the lakes to our dhow, waiting to ship the slaves to the markets in Stone Town on Zanzibar. The slaves had been told by their chief that they would be shipped off to the Sultan of Oman’s palace, and live out their lives in luxury – so they didn’t give any trouble.
We’d also picked up a nice couple of tusks and some slabs of fresh elephant meat as part of the deal. That was the trouble.
We were moving as quietly as we could through that pitch dark African night to avoid ambushes and attacks by other slavers. Human eyes are amazing – but they must have some light!
Then it started. ‘Cough.’ ‘Cough.’
You don’t live in Africa long without learning the sound of a lion. This one sounded an old male hunting alone – probably a man-eater. Couldn’t light torches without giving our position away – and you don’t stop a charging lion in the dark with a musket ball!
All those weary miles through that still deep rich darkness ‘Cough’ now to this side now to that!
My nerves were shattered by the time we caught sight of the welcoming fire our mates had built on the beach.

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Ivy

Ivy Berries
Ivy Berries

For some the first flowers of the year promise that Spring will come.
But woodland wild folk watch the world dance to a different drum.
For them, Spring flowers do naught but tell of Autumn fare unknown,
They care not how their future bread by nature’s hand is sown.

The leaves of Spring soft fed by rain find wild folk’s larder bare.
Yet hedgerow folk know Spring’s prudence is tempered yet with care.
For ivy will her berries show with bright green leaves displayed,
To ripen as the Spring moves on upon her branch arrayed.

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Snowdrops

This Years First Snowdrops
This Years First Snowdrops

Snowdrops peek through at Winter’s end,
With Nature’s seasons gently blend.
At year’s beginning know your place,
To march to Time’s insistent pace.

While I, like Janus, see both ways.
So, ponder how to fill my days.
By pathways misty hand I’m led,
Between the snowdrops in my head.

Yet Time waits not for plant or man,
And each must bloom the best he can.
Choose, then, a path with pressured haste,
For time is Time’s, not ours to waste.

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The Crocalog: Tales from Hawkey Beck

The Crocalog Tales
The Crocalog

.
The crocalog lay in his bower
And cared not for the day or hour.
Since he had no shame to hide
He rolled right over on his side.

And lying thus he well could hear
The stories whispered in his ear.
The babbling beck had tales to tell
Of maidens fair and ogres fell.

The tale of Princess Jaune he heard,
(Eagerly drank in every word)
Imprisoned in a castle strong
And punished though she did no wrong.

*/_______________________________________/*

The Crocalog Tales: Castle Toadstool
Castle Toadstool

A wicked ogre passing by,
Strong Castle Toadstool caught his eye.
Now, ogres are quite insecure,
For this, there really is no cure

Brave castles lit by sunlight’s gleam
Stab right at their self-esteem.
Just to give the folk a fright
He cursed the castle – out of spite.

The curse bound all in slumber deep.
But Princess Jaune was fast asleep,
She didn’t hear the words he spoke
So she, alone uncursed, awoke.

*/_______________________________________/*

Meadow Vetchling
Princess Jaune

No one came to help her dress,
The reason why she could not guess.
No maid her presence came to beg
To breakfast on a scrambled egg.

She stamped her foot with discontent
And, in her nightdress, out she went.
Into every room to peep
And found her servants fast asleep.

So then, the King and Queen she sought
Of this sad state to make report,
But found, to her distress and fear,
Both bound in sleep, her parents dear.

*/_______________________________________/*

Thorns
Thorns

First, she put on her dressing-gown.
Climbed the tower, looked out and down.
Bright swords, sharp spikes, was all she saw
Closed every window, every door.

She thought of brave Sir Furze, her knight,
Who wandered far to try to fight
A dragon for his gold and land
And with these riches win her hand.

Where was he when she needed him?
Her situation now was grim.
No clothes, no food, since who knows when,
She threw a tantrum there and then

*/_______________________________________/*

Blackberries
Blackberries

The emptiness inside her grew
So to the kitchen, down she flew.
Boxes, bags there by the score
She emptied them out on the floor

Nothing could she see to eat
In all the food around her feet.
At last, she spied a crust of bread
And hurried, with it, back to bed.

The covers pulled around her ears
She sobbed, wrapped up in all her fears.
‘Alas!’ she cried, her shoulders shook,
‘I’ll starve before I learn to cook!’

*/_______________________________________/*

Wild Rose
Wild Rose

Brave Sir Furze had wandered far
Seeking lands where dragons are,
And while he sought for knightly action
He found, instead, a fair distraction.

Many a maid his talents sought
With scented notelets, phrases fraught.
Begging for a knight as he
To rescue her from sad ennui

Miss Bramble dressed in frilly white
Sought his attention to her plight
And Lady Rose of Briar Park
Declared her future grim and dark.

*/_______________________________________/*

Dressed for the ball - Bluebells
Dressed for the ball – Bluebells

Now rescuing maidens in distress,
Locked hard away under duress,
In dragon danger, peril sore,
Is, indeed, what Knights are for.

But maidens waiting for the chance
To be invited to a dance,
Not chained in rags in towers tall
But finely dressed as for a ball.

While needing less a knight’s strong arm
Still need, no doubt, his Knightly charm.
To rescue seek from boredom’s pit
Is surely stretching things a bit.

*/_______________________________________/*

Ragged Robin
Ragged Robin

But brave Sir Furze, he did his best
To rise to this, his manhood’s test,
And though he could not save them all,
He rescued several at each ball.

These maidens fair with music sweet,
Each one he would dance off her feet,
While the musicians took a break,
Rich food and wine they would partake.

Few thoughts he gave to his princess.
He doesn’t know she’s in a mess.
Unwashed and hungry, I’m afraid,
And calling on his Knightly aid.

*/_______________________________________/*

The Vacant Vale
The Vacant Vale

Each day she’d climb the castle tower
And at the empty landscape glower.
No knight in shining armour rode
Just vacant vale where the beck flowed.

‘Am I a maiden in distress?
In case of doubt let me confess.
It’s plain for anyone to see,
I need my Knight to rescue me.’

Disappointment filled her heart
And soon she felt the teardrops start.
A robin, sad to hear her wrongs,
Then joined in with his doleful songs.

*/_______________________________________/*

Doleful Robin
Doleful Robin

‘Oh, Robin, try with all your might,
Fly near and far and find my knight,
Tell him of my situation,
Waiting here for my salvation.’

The Robin cocked his head askew,
Thinking what he ought to do.
Before things could get any worse,
He sang again his mournful verse.

Then, off he flew into the sky,
All he could do would be to try
To seek her knight, as she did ask.
Indeed, it seemed a hopeless task.

*/_______________________________________/*

Swan with Reflection
Swan with Reflection

Down from the tower, just by chance
In a large mirror stole a glance
Dishevelled and unkempt was she
She was no sight for knights to see.

Straightway to shower and wash her hair
(It was days since she’d been there!)
With the caress of water warm
Good thoughts came buzzing in a swarm.

‘I must desist this futile mope.
I’ll cook a meal – I’m sure I’ll cope.
I’ll leave things out wherein I lack it,
And follow just what’s on the packet.’

*/_______________________________________/*

May Blossom - Covering the Hedges, Like Washing Spread Out to Dry
May Blossom – Covering the Hedges, Like Washing Spread Out to Dry

‘I need clean clothes, I’ll take a look,
Try to find an instruction book.
These grave issues I must address.
Am I not a royal princess?’

‘It’s time I took myself in hand.
My Knight is in a far-off land.
I know that he on me depends
While he, with dragons fierce, contends’

‘Oh Robin true, fly far and wide
Take my sad tale, sing at his side.
Tell how, for him, I greatly yearn,
To rescue me on his return.’

*/_______________________________________/*

Robin in a Gorse Bush
Robin in a Gorse Bush

Dancing all night, idle by day
Sir Furze in scented bower lay.
He mused upon his dissipation
In the current situation

A robin did a sad song make,
It did not help with his headache,
‘Yes, of my conduct I’m not proud,
But Robin, please, don’t sing so loud!’

‘My Princess has great hopes of me,
How disappointed she would be
That my commitment is so weak.
I will, today, a dragon seek.’

*/_______________________________________/*

Far Off Mountains
Far-Off Mountains

Straightway, Sir Furze, he took to horse
Towards the mountains set his course.
‘Twas there, the thought was in his mind,
He surely would a dragon find.

Then, what a battle there would be
He would display his bravery
The fight of fights, unto the death,
Against the flaming dragon’s breath!

The clash of steel – of sword and shield
With valour both, he’d surely wield.
In his mind’s eye, he plain could see,
Himself, stood there, in victory.

*/_______________________________________/*

Blackbird - keeping a look out
Blackbird – keeping a lookout

The Princess grew more confident
Her meals turned out just how she meant
The clothes with which she daily dressed
Hung in her closet neatly pressed

Still, each day up the tower climbed she
Hoping for her Knight to see
Here at this high elevation
Welcome him with pure elation

But when she felt the teardrops start
These days, grave doubts tugged at her heart
Fearing, perhaps upon a whim,
The dragon had, sadly, slain him.

*/_______________________________________/*

Mushrooms - A Tumbled Inn
Mushrooms – A Tumbled Inn

Sir Furze rode on and, once or twice,
He stopped to ask for some advice,
‘Are dragons found in hereabouts?’
But each he asked expressed their doubts.

Deeper he rode far in the hills
The sun obscured by cloudy chills
Through rain and sleet and thunder’s roar
At last, a tumbled inn he saw.

He asked, ‘Are dragons to be found,
Here where the mountains do abound?’
‘The Ancient Sage would surely know,
He’d kindly tell you where to go!’

*/_______________________________________/*

Fireplace With Fire
Fireplace With Fire

‘First, shelter for me and my horse
I’ll seek this hermit in due course.
A stable where Horse can retire
For me a seat near to the fire.’

The patron showed him to a chair,
‘Please sit, Sir Knight, and if you care,
In our fire’s warmth to freely speak
Of where you came, and what you seek.’

‘I seek to win me gold and land
To beg My Princess for her hand.
To fight a dragon seems to be
The way, as far as I can see.’

*/_______________________________________/*

Horse
Horse

‘Our Ancient Sage is wise and kind.
Politely ask what’s on your mind
He, for no charge, will answer you
Explaining what you need to do.’

‘The way is hard, the mountains high
Your horse can’t climb where eagles fly
Sword, shield and lance will hamper you
And leave behind your armour too.’

Sir Furze he went to bed unsure
These words struck at his very core
No horse, no sword, could this be right?
How would folk know he was a knight?

*/_______________________________________/*

Rocks
Rocks

Sir Furze climbed on, the way was hard
Used hands and feet to gain each yard
‘Advice they gave I will endorse
This is no path for man and horse.’

At last a cavern he espied
The Ancient Sage should be inside
‘Art thou within, oh Ancient Sage?
I would, a while, with thee engage.’

A flame broke through the stygian gloom
Its flickering light lit up the room
‘Ah, welcome friend,’ rumbled a voice,
‘Come, sit or stand as is your choice.’

*/_______________________________________/*

Fireweed
Fireweed

Sir Furze advanced into the grot
Unsure if he should sit or not.
To stand to him did seem most wise
For quick escape, should need arise

‘A dragon for his gold and land
I need to slay, you understand
This, the matter I must address
To gain the hand of my princess.’

A chuckle from the darkness came
And lit the cavern with a flame
‘See now Sir Knight just why you joke
I am the last of The Dragon-folk.’

*/_______________________________________/*

Robin in the cave
Robin in the cave

‘This cave – my lands, I have no gold.
Wisdom I have; I’m very old.
In life there are diverse paths but,
Which ‘er you choose, there’s no shortcut.’

‘But wait! Who’s this. Come brother bird.
It’s time your story should be heard!’
The Robin sang his sad song and
Sir Furze found he could understand.

‘Well, Sir Knight, you need not guess,
Your duty is to your princess.
Take sword and steel, and to her pledge
Your love against The Ogre’s hedge!’

*/_______________________________________/*

No Gold or Lands
No Gold or Lands

Down to the inn, sword shield and horse
To save his princess by brute force
The weary miles must galop by
None bar his way. On he needs fly!

The dragon’s words ring in his mind
No gold or lands are there to find
Which all these years he sought in vain
A waste of time it now is plain

To his princess, he must return
Make plain she is his main concern
The Ogres hedge he must attack
Drive the curse, whence it came, back.

*/_____________________________________/*

The Ogre's Hedge - Gorse
The Ogre’s Hedge – Gorse

Upon the tower our princess stands
Looks out expecting barren lands
But see! Her hopes are now fulfilled
Her knight returns, he’s not been killed.

‘Princess,’ he cries, and draws his sword
‘A path I’ll hew both straight and broad
Through bushes dense I’ll drive a wedge
And free you from The Ogre’s hedge.’

He hacks away with all his might
But finds his plan does not go right.
For as he chops so the hedge grows
And soon it will behind him close.

*/___________________________________/*

Down from her tower the princess flies
To force the castle door she tries
Opens a crack through which to squeeze
But thorns and spikes are all she sees

From sleeping guard she wrests a blade
Carves her way through the gap she’s made
Towards her knight stretches her hand
He reaches out, their hands clasp, and …

An Ogre’s curse is made from hate
So love’s true touch does it abate.
The castle woke to a sweet sight,
Their princess brave, kissing her knight.

The End

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Ringlet

Ringlet Butterfly
Ringlet Butterfly

Today we have the Ringlet Butterfly. As you can see, there is nothing very remarkable about it. It’s just a butterfly.

It prefers the cool damp days to bright sunny ones and so is out and about when its other more gaudy associates are sheltering from the inclemency.

Many cartoon heroes and even the main dramatis personae in our espionage fiction are usually remarkable people. The truth of the matter is that these larger-than-life characters are truly fictional and in the real world spies are valued for their ordinariness, their ability to blend in and disappear into the wallpaper – to be invisible in plain sight. The Ringlet performs this sleight of hand with ease. They are one of our most common butterflies but barely get a mention. When the subject arises their more colourful cousins, the Red Admirals, the Painted Ladies, the Peacocks, the Fritillaries, claim the limelight.

Are our, so ordinary, Ringlet butterflies leading a secret life, we wonder? Are they taught Morse Code in their cradles? Do they emerge from the chrysalis as fully competent agents provocateur? Is their love of dull damp days a cover for their clandestine operations?

And if so, whose side are they on?

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Unlikely Bedfellows

Impatiens And Mimulus
Impatiens And Mimulus

‘Oh Mimulus, you drive me mad,
You timid yellow bloom.
Your talk is always of the bad,
Your mind is full of doom.
Disaster fills each waking thought,
Your conversation palls.
This list of battles to be fought,
Just on my deaf ear falls.’

‘Impatiens, slow down and hear
The warnings that we bring.
Pink blossom, haste will cost you dear,
A doleful song you’ll sing.
Our future flies on fragile wings
This world’s a dangerous place.
These are not vague imaginings,
But real threats that we face.’

For context see:
https://www.healingherbs.co.uk/essences/essence/impatiens
https://www.healingherbs.co.uk/essences/essence/mimulus

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The Wheel of Life

Buttercup With Two Flies
Buttercup With Two Flies

One behind and one ahead.
One in the lead and one is led.
The timid trail after the bold.
A buttercup, their world of gold.

We mortals all chase fool’s gold too.
Around we go. Who’s leading who?
Bright sword sharp or ploughshare blunt.
Each to the rear and each in front.

The sun his daily orbit makes
And never pause or rest he takes.
So, we upon life’s wheel must toil.
To till and plant and reap our soil.

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Idle Musings

Hoverfly in the Hogweed
Hoverfly in the Hogweed

To bee or not to bee, a question I ask myself,
You might as well be asking, ‘When’s a fairy an elf?’
A witch is always a who, but a which is only a what,
Then again, here’s a thought, ‘Should I bee a wasp – or not?’

Do I look really fierce? I’m hoping you’d think I sting.
Would my yellow and black coat convince you – that’s the thing?
I’m trying not to get eaten by a bird looking for a quick bite.
Now my disguise is good – I just hope birds have good sight.

You’ll find me in the garden, I love to smell the flowers,
And buzz around among their dappled scented bowers.
I know that I look scary, but I don’t want to make you cry,
You see, I’m just a harmless, friendly, hoverfly.

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Painted Lady

Painted Lady
Painted Lady

‘Painted Lady passing by,
Just a social butterfly.’
So they say, all unaware,
For their opinions, you don’t care

Is life just a pleasant hour
While you flit from flower to flower,
Turning hours to tranquil days,
Basking in the summer rays?

Is it impolite to ask
If this paint is just a mask?
Do you hide, with raffish flare,
All the burdens that you bear?

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New Ploughing

New Ploughing
New Ploughing

Awake. Awake, good brown earth, your slumber now must cease.
Come, show us what you’re made of, for you shall have no peace.
No longer lie there, somnolent, in your verdant green pyjamas.
You lie in working farmland, not on a beach in the Bahamas.

You’ve crops to feed and germinate, give sustenance and cosset.
And grow them tall and rear them well on nature’s pluvial posset.
Up now, awake, though warmer days make slumber so seductive.
You’ve drowsed the year away ‘til now, it’s time you were productive.

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Peanuts

Spotted Woodpecker Pair
Spotted Woodpecker Pair

‘Will you look at that?’
‘What?’
‘That!’
‘I can’t see any peanuts.’
‘Not peanuts, I mean look at that knot.’
‘Which knot?’
‘This one.’
‘What for?’
‘Just look at it!’
‘I am looking at it. Now what. Where are the peanuts?’
‘Never mind the peanuts, just for one moment. Just look at that knot.’
‘It’s a knot, OK, I see it. Now, where are the peanuts?’
‘OK, OK. Let’s forget the peanuts, just for two seconds. We’ll do peanuts in a minute. OK?’
‘OK.’
‘Now, look at the knot.’
‘I’ve looked at it already. It’s still the same. Was something supposed to happen while I was looking at it? Because if it was – it didn’t.’
‘Nothing is supposed to happen, that’s not the point. Just look at it closely.’
‘OK, I’m looking.’
‘You see?’
‘Yes, I see.’
‘What do you see?’
‘A knot.’
‘Yes, a knot. But don’t you see?’
‘Of course I can see the knot. So what? Can we get back to the peanuts, now? The kids are waiting, you know.’
‘Peanuts! Is that all you can think about?’
‘The kids are hungry and I can’t see how this knot can help to feed them. But I can see how peanuts can.’
‘You mean you honestly don’t see anything wrong with that knot?’
‘No, just tell me – and let’s get to the peanuts.’
‘OK, I give in. You’re going to kick yourself when I tell you, though.’
‘I’ll risk it, just tell me.’
‘Oh for Pete’s sake, look at it. Did you ever see a worse example of a Granny Knot?’
‘Peanuts?’

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Passengers

Train going past
Train going past

Train going past on the railway track,
Carrying passengers, clickety-clack.
Some going there and some coming back.
Clickety, clickety. Clickety-clack.

“Quinquireme of Nineveh,” some people quote,
But Nineveh is long gone and a quinquireme’s just a boat.
It’s hold stuffed with trade goods and trinkets by the score,
But no room for passengers, unless you man an oar.

“Stately Spanish galleon,” rash pirates favourite prey.
Give them a broadside and chase them away.
But you can’t buy a ticket, no matter what you do.
Don’t hang around the docks, though – you’ll be press-ganged for a crew!

“Dirty British coaster,” history’s taken you as well,
Carrying coals to Newcastle, all smoke and noxious smell.
The cargoes you carried are not now what we need.
What we have are passengers and passengers need speed.

So, train going past on the railway track
Carrying passengers, clickety-clack.
Some going there and some coming back
Clickety, clickety. Clickety-clack.

John Masefield’s Cargos is one of my favourite poems. He died 52 years ago –  in May 1967.

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Loquacious Lump

Lumps In The Beck
Lumps In The Beck

Said a duck, in the beck, swimming by,
‘Strange lumps, here and there, I espy.’
‘Not just one hippopotamus,’
Said a lump, ‘There’s a lot of us!’
‘Oh, how nice,’ said the duck. ‘Well … must fly.’

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The Crocalog Reflects

The Crocalog's Garden
The Crocalog’s Garden

The crocalog, he wandered far,
To find just where the answers are.
He found it was more complicated
Than he’d, at first, anticipated.

Disillusionment set in.
He pined for all his kith and kin,
No longer felt the urge to roam,
In short – he wanted to go home.

Now contentedly at rest,
He’s made himself a little nest.
Where he needs beg, from no man, pardon
But sits serenely in his garden.

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Population Polarity

 

Ribwort
Ribwort

Today I came across some Ribwort Plantain with its striking flower/seed head and rough five ribbed leaves. My first thought was that five ribs would easily create a Devine production line allowing the manufacture of five Eves at once. On second thoughts it occurred to me that Divinity appears to rely on market forces and so would be unlikely to want to flood the market with either men or women. The world functions best when the original ratio is maintained.

Then, I remembered that the King of eSwatini (formally Swaziland) had not in fact ordered the men of his country, on pain of fines or imprisonment, to marry at least two wives at a time. It was, a spokesman said, a malicious rumour that appeared first in a Zimbabwe newspaper.

Prodding Google awake, I asked him which countries had the most of one or the other. He found me a list from 2017/2018 – with some interesting numbers. However, caution is needed – the island of Martinique, the place with 120 women to every 100 men was, reportedly, in North America. {There is a suburb of that name in New York.)

Most places approximate the world average of 98.25 women to each 100 men – until we come to the Arab states. Here, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have around 35 women to every 100 men. Such extremes make me uneasy and I’m inclined to wonder how the figures were collected.

You know: Lies. Damn lies – and statistics?

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The Blacksmith’s Apprentice

The Guardians of the Gate
The Guardians of the Gate

‘No! I beg you Sir Knight, if you value your life, leave – lest the castle guardians destroy you!’
‘Princess Miranda, I am sworn to free you from your prison, and I will do whatever needs be to accomplish this!’
‘Sir Knight, I am not imprisoned. You may leave me here in the castle. I need no rescue.’
‘Then, I will enter the castle that we may continue to converse at our leisure.’
With a fine caracole, Sir Knight raised his lance in salute and galloped forward – into the massive fireball of dragon flame that issued from the castle’s two fearsome guardians.
Princess Miranda covered her eyes and turned away.
‘Anna,’ she turned to her elderly governess. ‘How can I stop them from coming here, just to be destroyed by the dragons?’
Anna put a comforting arm around her shoulders. ‘As long as the castle is here, they’ll keep coming, Princess, it’s not your fault. There’s nothing you can do about it.’
‘I must go to Olaf, Anna.’
‘That young smith’s apprentice? Princess, you know you shouldn’t be talking to him. Have you told him who you really are?’
The princess nodded, ‘Yes, he knows. He promised to tell no one. He told me he loved me before he knew who I was. So, I had to tell him the truth.’
She turned back to the window, ‘Why, there’s Olaf now. Oh no. What is he doing? The dragons. No. No!’
‘Princess Miranda. I can’t live without you any longer. I’m coming in, dragons or no dragons!’
‘Olaf. Oh, Olaf. No!’ She leapt away from the window, flew down the stairs and out through the castle door.
‘Olaf. Olaf!’ She ran towards him, arms outstretched.
‘Miranda. I love you.’ He ran forward reaching out for her.
The dragon’s fire engulfed them both – changing to become, instead, a cool spring breeze carrying fragrant cherry blossom and sweet birdsong.
‘Oh, Olaf!’
‘Oh, Miranda!’
Then, as the castle and its guardians shimmered and faded behind them, he kissed her.
True love, surely, conquers all.

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…a rose, by any other name…

Hedge Garlic
Hedge Garlic

‘Jack? Jack? Here. Yes, that’s me. Jack-by-the-Hedge is what most people call me. I do have a few other names, Garlic Mustard is about the most useful.

‘Well, I actually am a Mustard, but I smell and taste like garlic. So, you know…

‘Yes, indeed. Hedge Garlic, too. I’ll even answer to Hedge Mustard now and again.

‘No, not really. I’m used to it, I suppose, and they’re similar enough. So, no, I don’t get confused by it at all.

‘Thank you, yes, people do say I’m a useful person to know. I can liven up your salad for you for instance. I’ll admit some people say they don’t like the bitter after-taste, but there’s always someone going to complain, isn’t there?

‘Quite, they’re probably the ones who heard I was useful as a disinfectant. You know how it is – when these things get spread around.

‘Yes, lovely day. The weather hasn’t been bad lately, has it? But then we usually get a few nice days at the beginning of spring, don’t we?

‘Well, as you can see, I was lucky this year – got my flowers out before May Blossom swamped everything – the early bird and all that.

‘You’re local, I take it I’ve seen you passing this way a few times.

‘Right, right. I’ve got family all over the place too. We’re doing very well in America, apparently.

‘Of course, nice of you to stop and chat. I’ll see you next time you’re around this way, no doubt.

‘Goodbye for now then.

‘Goodbye.’

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Where do Acorns Come From?

Oak Flowers
Oak Flowers

In the wood behind the house stand many a mighty oak,
Leafless amid daffodils and April’s showery soak.
So many days, so many years, to passing season’s clock,
They’ve added rings beneath their bark made from this earth and rock.

Each weighty tree of solid wood was once a fragile shoot.
Sprang up amongst the winter brown. Drove down to hold and root.
See here, where shoot and root unite, an acorn small and brown.
That grew full ripe, high in the air, ‘til Autumn brought it down.

But ere the acorn cup grows full a magic spell unwinds,
Amongst the Springtime growth renewed within green leaves enshrined.
A promise of full future strength foretelling oaken powers.
Here with windblown leaf and twig the mighty oak tree flowers.

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Maybe

Early May Blossom
Early May Blossom

Mother Nature’s a quirky old lady, she likes to make up her own rules,
If we try to guess what she’s doing, we’ll just end up seeming like fools.
She likes to sprinkle some Snowdrops, then add a few Daffs just for show.
With a background of brown, green, or even – white if she fancies some snow.
She finds Spring overly pushy, likes to keep her in her right in her place.
Mam does things when she does things – at her own, unhurried, pace.
So, the question that’s waiting an answer, to which we just need Yea or Nay.
Will May blossom blossom for May Day? If she’s willing, then maybe it may.

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Blue Belles

Early Bluebell
Early Bluebell

We managed a nice picture of the early bird bluebells this week, so I thought I’d have a chat with Google about them. I was hoping he’d mention that all parts of the plant are reasonably toxic to humans and animals.  Or perhaps, that most of the world’s bluebells are here in the UK, but it’s OK, we’ve made it illegal to dig up the bulbs and to pick the flowers to offer them for sale. Perhaps, even, that they are quite pernickety and take around seven years from seed to producing their first flower and trampling around on their leaves kills the bulbs.

But no.  What he wanted to mutter on about was The Bluebell Girls. This was the name of dance troupes in all the major world capitals started and run by Mary Kelly who became better known as Miss Bluebell. She left school at 14 to become a dancer in a Scottish troupe called The Hot Jocks. In the 1930s she danced in Berlin and Paris – she and her husband were in Paris during WWII and he was arrested by the Gestapo – but escaped with the help of the resistance and she hid him in Paris. Despite having to go through severe questioning herself they stayed there, with their children, until the war ended.

All interesting stuff you might think – and that she was a remarkable lady. But what had caught Google’s eye was actually that Miss Bluebell was the one who introduced the world to the concept of topless dancers.