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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.

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Good News

Tiny Silverweed leaf - hiding in the grass.

Tiny Silverweed leaf – hiding in the grass.

At the corner, we usually stop to look into the field. It’s been empty for the winter but a few days ago John put his animals out to graze. Not sure how they took it – they’ve been in a nice warm barn and the weather has done its normal April thing and turned nasty on us. In the hedge by the gate, a nice sunny spot, the Hawthorn has had a crisp sprinkle of new green leaves for a week or so. Today we noticed bunches of tiny green nodules – May Blossom in waiting.
The Daffodils have done their thing and are mostly standing around looking weary, this time of the year is hard for them. In the fresh-grown grass, bright yellow Lesser Celandine is peeping out here and there ready to carry the yellow theme on when the Daffs retire into their ageing bundles of leaves.
The dark browny-purple spikes of Rose Bay Willow Herb are already losing their striking dark colouring, as the feather duster of leaves spread and pale – hard to believe within a few weeks these will be four or five feet tall.
Seeing something glistening the roadside verge I bent for a closer look and found this miniature Silverweed leaf still holding a few of last nights raindrops.
There is no doubt, whatever the weather, Spring is here.

Categories: Uncategorized
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