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Archive for February, 2016

Research

Sunset

Sunset

Every now and again, over the last week, we have been beset by a strange brightness during the day. This seems to be connected to a large yellow-coloured blob that we have observed, in the sky, from time to time. At least, the unnatural light seems to occur only when the yellow blob is in the sky. We haven’t had the brightness without the blob, and we haven’t had the blob without the brightness, so we think it’s fair to assume some form of connection. However, some of our more scientifically inclines readers may wish to dispute this, as we have no reports that the effect can be independently verified, nor have we submitted it to peer review.

We are not, of course, going to indulge in sensational flights of fancy and claim the involvement of extra-terrestial beings. Nor do we intend to claim to have been kidnapped and carried off to view marvels of the future, that will, one day, bring universal world peace and contentment to mankind.

At this time, our main hope is to have the oportunity to continue with our observations. This will allow us to apply for a government, EU, or Arts Council grant, and carry our work on to its natural conclusion.

Meanwhile, we are having some nice sunsets.

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Inexplicable

Pussy Willow or Sallow

Pussy Willow or Sallow

The phone camera definitely has a mind of its own. Until now, we have assumed that attempting any type of close-up was a sure fire method of achieving the sort of pointless blur that removed any possibility of remembering what the picture was supposed to be.

Today’s picture is a branch of Sallow or Goat Willow, often also known as Pussy Willow. We have walked past this branch every other day this week, stopping each time to try to get a decent picture of its soft fluffiness. We must have eight or ten fuzzy images of its soft fuzziness. Today, I accidentally tapped the screen twice, taking two photos. The first one fitted the mould – fuzzy. This is the second, beautifully in focus.

What made the camera decide to avoid the object I had placed squarely in the bracket and focus on the sticks in the background in all the previous pictures – and yet focus on the flower in this one? My guess is that this is one of those mysteries that will remain forever unresolved.

Another mystery that bids to remain unresolved is, why is it in flower now? It is only supposed to be in flower in time for Easter. I know we’ve had a mild winter – but this is the only Sallow in the area currently in flower.

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And A Crocus

Our First Crocus

Our First Crocus

Another photo taken with the phone, today. Is it my imagination, or are we getting a little better at phone pictures? With all the intelligence built into the average phone these days, perhaps it’s just that the phone has learned how to take better pictures of the stuff I thrust in front of its face – nothing to do with me at all.

This is the wrong type of crocus. The useful kind is the sort that flowers in autumn around the Mediterranean, the variety that you can collect pollen from to make saffron.

This immediately conjures up a picture of a bunch of Ancient Greek cavemen, bear skin clad, complete with cudgels and flint knapping accessories, chasing down a herd of wild horses, merely to pull a few hairs out of a pony’s tail.

The stolen hairs are then rushed, victoriously, back to the tribal camp under heavy guard. In the camp, with much ceremony, the hairs are formed into a little brush. The tribal elders gather round, the Medicine Man casts the auguries. If The Gods seem to be supportive, then, and only then, are the crocuses brought forward and, with heart stopping delicacy, the pollen is brushed out of the flower into a bag. A bag heavily decorated with much intricate and magical bead work by the women of the tribe.

Here the saffron will lie, awaiting the discovery of China and the arrival of a couple of kilos of rice.

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Finding A Home

Snowdrops - right at home here

Snowdrops – right at home here

Snowdrops are starting to appear everywhere. Some people say that they are not really locals at all. The original plants, possibly, came over from Europe and the Middle East sometime in the 1600s, or they might have come earlier than that – when the Romans needed a little bit of winter colour in the villa garden, perhaps. Then, they might have just made their own way across the narrow strip of sea water some time after the last Ice Age. No one seems to be sure.

It makes you wonder. For just how many generations do you need to live in a place before you can think of yourself as ‘a local’. Most humans think that if they were born somewhere – then they are entitled to think of themselves as nationals. Why are plants so different? Surely, if it is growing wild somewhere – then it is a wild flower of that area. Especially if has been growing successfully for a number of years.

The last Ice Age scraped the whole place clean. Pretty much any living thing that we see around us arrived here as a pioneer, and then became a settler, some time after that. Those who could stand our weather, that is.

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