Today is my birthday. I have made it into double figures. In spite of the fact that we use the decimal system it is actually eleven years since the last time my age was indicated by two identical digits. This misalignment began early. I had been alive for a whole year before I reached the age of one. Thinking of this made me wonder about nothing – or zero.
Nothing must have always existed, the concept of not having anything must have been understood even when we ran around in our most primitive state. But, no one really put it to good use until around 500 AD when a guy called Aryabhata, from Northern India, published some really interesting astronomical texts in which he used it in the way we do today. The texts were so interesting that soon everyone who was anyone at that time was talking about them, and zero as a decimal placeholder, soon passed into wider use.
In the photo we have a Bullfinch. At one time they were an agricultural pest. They feed off the flower buds on fruit trees and used to decimate fruit crops. His numbers are down, too, and it does seem to have improved his social responsibility.
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.
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.
‘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.’