Saturday, 6 May 2017

First Week of May

It’s that most beautiful time of year, when new leaves are on the trees. In the first week of May it’s one woodland view in particular that does it for me. Seen in early morning sunlight from the marsh road at Oxwich, the knobbly canopy of mostly oak, beech and copper beech by Penrice Castle resembles tropical rainforest. Leaning away from the prevailing westerly winds, newly opening oaks add tints of brown, creating a mosaic of spring beauty that imprints deeply into my soul each year. It won’t last long, and will fuse into more uniform green in less than a couple of weeks.

Looking the other way is a carpeted acre of precious yellow, with a wash of blue, a field of oxlips and bluebells like no other I know. Guarded by hedgerows of singing willow warblers, each of the many thousands of delicate flowers is an icon of British spring. Oxlips, like cowslips, were so called in the 16th century, when it was noticed they grew well in the vicinity of cowpats. They’ve recovered well in this field after years of careful management. Once a field of bracken, regular mowing transformed the meadow into a sea of wildflowers, which continues to spread. Nature can recover if given half a chance.

In these two views I see nothing rare, beauty lies in the everyday things around us, and all we need to do is look. Gilbert White in the 18th century showed us the way, and how to appreciate the common things in the countryside. His 'Natural History of Selborne' is never far from my mind. 

The first day of the month usually brings swifts back into my life, and they’re a few days late this year, but house martins are already over the marsh and their aerial companions  won't be long now.

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