There Is A Tide

Wild Cherry Blossom

Wild Cherry Blossom

The tree tunnel is closing over again now the new leaves are appearing. Since last autumn it hasn’t been much of a tunnel at all. We didn’t complain. The lack of leaves let through the weak watery stuff that passes for sunlight at that time of year. The sun had no warmth in it, but it did cheer us up whenever it managed to find a small hole in the cloud to peek out from.

On one side of the tree tunnel is a high bank with various mature trees growing on it. On the other, between the road and the beck, we have a row of wild cherry trees interspersed with holly bushes. The cherry trees do look very pretty when they are in bloom. When spring moves in, in order to clear away last year’s cast off leaves, she brings fresh winds with her. These winds shake the blossom from the cherries, leaving bare stalks in place of pale pink flowers.

This is just a temporary measure – soon after, the stalks start to swell and show the first signs of red berries. In a few months we will be able to collect those we can reach. They are small and extremely bitter with a large stone, not very appetising at all. But, they come into their own when they are stored for a few months in brandy. The cherries and the brandy both benefit from the association – I’m pleased to say.

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Crab Apple

Crab Apple Blossom

Crab Apple Blossom

Our cows have returned and the Crab Apple is in flower. A chill wind has sneaked in – it was so warm over the weekend that someone left the Fire Doors open and it took advantage – so there is still no sign of the May Blossom in the hedges. I therefore caution against casting your cloutes just yet – but you could certainly loosen a few buttons.
Daffodil flowers are few and far between – forlorn little patches of fast-fading green stalks are all we have to show for this year’s marvellous display. The Blackthorn flowers have turned a pale ecru, they, too, will soon lose interest and wander off. The considerable promise the Bluebells showed earlier has been slow to materialise – if they don’t hurry up, they may miss out.
The Hedge Garlic is into its stride and the Dandelion’s plan to conquer the universe is already showing positive results. Pale blue mists of Forget-me-not are dappling the shade and the Rose Baywillow Herb has begun its rapid reach for the sky.
Dr Edward Bach felt that, in their positive state, Crab Apple people connected to the emotional states around them – with so much happening in the natural world it’s difficult not to be aware of the buzz.

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What Did I come Here For?

Bee And Dandelion

Bee And Dandelion

‘I am absolutely sure it put it in here somewhere.
‘I mean, it has to here, this is the place it belongs.
‘Why would I put it anywhere else, when this is the right place for it?
‘This really is very frustrating, this is where I would put it if I was putting it away or something, and it just doesn’t seem to be here. What’s most frustrating, though, is that it just has to be where I left it. So there’s no one but myself to blame.
‘I mean, these things can’t just get up and move on their own, can they? They can’t just grow legs and walk, now, can they? Well, apparently they can. Because it definitely doen’t seem to be here.
‘OK. Wait. Let’s start again, and this time we’ll actually move things around instead of just pushing and poking at them. Let’s do this methodically and see if a more systematic approach will get us somewhere.
‘Really, you see, I should be wearing my glasses.
‘I wonder were my glasses are?
‘Let me see, I put them down somewhere, now where was it. Oh yes, I took them off when I got up to go and look for something.
‘And then, I thought it would be easier to find – if I had them on so I went to find them and . . .
‘Ah, yes. That’s what I was looking for. Don’t know why I was looking in here, though. I can’t imagine why I would think I’d left my glasses here.’

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The Beck

Hawkey Beck

Hawkey Beck

I often mention the beck at the bottom of the hill in these missives. I thought it was about time it took a bow, particularly while the trees are still (mostly) leafless and so allow a little sunlight through.

Round by the railway crossing – about a mile upstream – a hundred years ago, it used to turn a mill wheel. The line of small trees that formed a hedge along the old mill race – or lade – now wander over the bare hillside – noticeably holding an unnatural level. The hedge quickly disappears, but its height on the hill hints that its connection to the beck was some distance higher up the valley.

Here, by our ‘Pooh Sticks’ bridge, it is in a much more relaxed frame of mind and happy to chortle, to itself or anyone else willing to listen, as it makes its way, now slow, broad and shallow, now fast flowing between steep banks, under our bridge and off through the fields of cattle and sheep. At this time of year it welcomes a sprinkling of sunlight through the bare branches. Later, in the summer, it will slide, quietly whispering, through a green and secret, leafy tunnel.

Often, when we pass this way, we will drop a stick in on the upstream side of the bridge, then step quickly over to watch for it to appear out from the other side. Just to check that the beck is still functioning correctly.

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Cheerful Vitality

Purple DeadNettle

Purple DeadNettle

The nicest picture we have taken this week is of Purple Deadnettle. The Deadnettle part refers to its lack of those fine coiled hairs that give normal (The Un-Dead) nettles their antisocial sting. As our Deadnettle has no sting in the head or tail, naturally we eat it. Well, some people eat it. It is rather bitter they say – although I can’t comment on the veracity or otherwise of this. If I remember, I’ll taste a leaf or two and report back.
It’s an early spring plant, spreading out like a dark green and purple carpet, taking advantage of the absence of other contenders for space in amongst the winter-dried leaves and stems of last years growth.
If you were to harvest some and dry it could be very useful in magic. It has a reputation for promoting cheerful vitality and tenacious persistence. With its small bright flowers, appearing in barren patches of roadside verge and hedgerow after the drab sameness of winter, that is certainly well deserved.

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Lungwort

Lungwort

Lungwort

This week we have a nice picture of Lungwort. Would you be surprised if I were to tell you that “infusions of Lungwort should be quite safe for most normal healthy people to take”? A herbal remedy for healthy people, then.
Apparently, it does all sorts of cool stuff with free radicals and other things that are currently in vogue, although it is also still used to cure coughs and sore throats. The free radical association comes from some reasonably recent research, but its use to treat coughs and colds has no backing other than that people have been using it for thousands of years.
I have to confess that I find – everyone is doing it – of very little comfort.
Perhaps we had better move right along to pointing out that the flowers are often a pretty shade of pink when they open and turn blue and violet as they mature. This strange behaviour makes it very attractive as a garden plant. It is low growing, a couple of inches high at the most, and grows well in shade – in fact it prefers shade. So, all in all, a good plant for those bare places under trees and bushes where nothing will grow. Whether you have a cough and a sore throat or not.

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What Makes Dandelions Really Wild?

Daffodil Growing Wild In The Hedge

Daffodil Growing Wild In The Hedge

We keep the most ferocious of our wild daffodils caged up safely – as you can tell from this poem I wrote in April 2013. Apologies to those who don’t understand Cockney rhyming slang – and apologies to those who know how to speak it properly.

Roll hup. Roll hup, me gentlefolk. Roll hup. Roll hup, me dears.
‘ere we ‘ave a hanimal, ferocious, wild and fierce.
‘e’s wild and fierce an hugly has you can plainly see.
Some days ‘e ‘as a hargument an ‘e eats ‘is Nan for tea.
Hi keeps ‘im caged hup safely, don’t want to cause a scare,
an hif by chance ‘e gets hupset, I’ll subdue ‘im wiv me chair.
Jus’ look at hall them ‘ampsteads! If yer promise not to larff
Hi’ll venture hin there wiv ‘im, an stick me loaf hin ‘is norf an saaf.

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