Around this time every year an inexplicable, and irritating, event occurs. Quite suddenly, and without prior warning – I age a year over night. I go to bed as I do any other night but when I wake in the morning I find, for no apparent reason, that I’m a year older. Still, they do say that birthdays are good for you – it is widely accepted that those with the most, live longest. I’m sure there’s a scientific study somewhere if you Google it.
Currently I am engaged in a race. The challenge is: can I get old enough for my hair to turn silver – before it all falls out. Today’s photo is of Silverweed. The pale sheen on the leaves is caused by fine silver hairs. It’s a non-issue for him, then. Personally, I think that he was in such a hurry to get up and get going when Spring arrived, that he decided he would shave later. This is borne out by the fact that by summer his leaves will be plain ordinary green – once the growing season was over he obviously found time to catch up on his morning routine.
Well, May has arrived – and with it the Hawthorn hedges are starting to show signs of May Blossom. Traditionally this is the recommended time to bring the cattle out of their nice, warm winter barn, as the grass that has snoozed gently all winter should now be awake and perked up, raring to be eaten.
The Hawthorn has a large humanitarian streak in its nature and has given its Good Samaritan support to the various, misunderstood and outcast, carrion insects. The overt result of this is that the scent exuded by the flowers is reminiscent of rotting meat – totally at odds with the apparent purity of its white blossom.
In some years, our hedges go from zero to hero, seemingly overnight. A uniform green one day – then covered with white blossom the next. This year they have shown no such enthusiasm. Over the last couple of weeks the flowers have appeared in a rather haphazard manner, showing a small spray of white here, then ditto there.
I suspect that Hawthorn has reason to believe that the news source it uses to co-ordinate its flowering has become unreliable, and it just can’t be sure of the facts anymore.
Photography is such a fiddly business. There are about a million things you can adjust or select, add or subtract – and even worse, in order to do all of this you first have to find your glasses. (Didn’t Confucius say something similar?)
So, when buying a camera, I wanted something that could handle all of this phaffing on its own – without me having to fill in a four page questionnaire before the picture could be taken. To be fair, I was quite prepared to do my share. I was happy enough to take full responsibility for pointing the camera in roughly the right direction, and pressing the button at a time convenient to us both.
Birds, in particular, I have a love hate relationship with. I have endless pictures of the branch that the bird just flew away from – all in perfect focus. Some time ago, around this time of the year, I as passed this hedge, there, sitting on top, in full view, so wrapped up in his sunbathing that he completely ignored the great lumbering humans a few feet away, was a small bird. He was enjoying himself so much that he couldn’t be bothered to fly off when I took his picture. I was immensely impressed by his focus on the task in hand so I wrote him a song.
The Chaffinch we have in today’s piccy is a completely different bird – but he too, is focusing on the important things in life – I think he deserves a chorus or two, too.
We don’t see Cowslips around much. I think they’ve been poorly. Apparently, in the 1970s, things just got a little too much for the poor dears and they were on the verge of packing it all in and retiring to a nice boarding house in a not too popular, but select, seaside town. This plan came to nought however, as the department of roads started to put cowslip seeds in the ‘wild flower mix’ that they spread around to provide a vegetative covering along the raw banks of new and improved roads and motorways. This new career opening revived the cowslip’s flagging fortunes and they were soon on the road to recovery.
One of the main problems, if you’re an early (spring) riser, is that there hasn’t been anything to eat around all winter, so unless you’re very poisonous – and I mean very, very poisonous – people and various other animals will eat you. This is really inconvenient if all you want to do wave a few flowers at an occasional bee, produce a seed, and then get back to sleep. Hopefully, we’re now old enough to know better.
Cowslips are sometimes called St. Peter’s Keys. With a little imagination, they do look a bit like a bunch of keys, don’t they? I mention this because the explanations offered for the etymology of the name “cowslip” is bland beyond belief.