More choices and some other thoughts

It looks as if we here in the UK are going to have to decide for ourselves what is best for us to do in the next few weeks and months. Being sensible about things would be a good idea like not going in crowds and crowded places. There are some people around who do not think of others at any time and just go on their way passing on to others the thing that they do not want at all. I am being careful how I word things here as I do not want to get banned fro anything at the moment and you can’t be too careful but I am sure you all understand what I am saying.

Our lives are changing in many ways and we are all having to make choices about what to do and where to go. One of the things I have noticed is that children nowadays do not play in the dirt. Every surface is sanitised and they never come into contact with dirt. This leaves them with no immunity to whatever is in the dirt. Another thing they don’t do generally is walk and talk together. Many of them seem glued to the phones in their hands.

There is so much to see out there in the hedgerows and bushes. I am lucky enough this last few weeks to see butterflies that I have not seen before. This for me is a wonderful thing. I like to sit outside in the shade and watch all the insects flying around. I am discovering the different bees now as well and have taken photos of some of them. There are a lot of different insects that I have noticed and there are so many varieties of them too. Ladybirds are one example. There are 47 species of these in the UK alone and many more worldwide. I like to see how many spots they have and also how different their larvae look. They are not all red either. But they are tiny and often go unnoticed by passers-by.

It is extremely hot this morning so another choice to make. I shall go outside shortly to check whether my small garden patch needs watering and then stay inside for the rest of the day. Each day brings choices of one kind or another and we make choices without thinking at times but some choices need a lot of thought and I am still working on some of these. I do feel though that my original thought is always the best and that is my gut reaction so I do tend to follow that.

How amazing is the natural world?

I spend some time every week out in a nature reserve somewhere with my son and there is always something that fascinates me. This week it was the Brimstone butterfly. I have known for some time that it lays its eggs in buckthorn. We were watching a female brimstone on Thursday fluttering around the hedge in a local reserve. It went from one to another then found one to settle on and lay an egg. She flew off and flew around before coming back to another similar branch of buckthorn. Now what fascinates me is this – how did she know which branches were buckthorn? Does the branch exude some kind of smell or what?

There are other things about nature that have happened recently, like the frogs and toads going back to where they were spawned. How do they know where to go? We, so-called superior beings, have to use maps or a Satnav to find places yet the humble toad and frog head off crossing roads and fields to get back to where they were born.

In the summer I spend hours watching dragonflies and damselflies during their mating dances and the laying of eggs. I have watched the birds displaying their mating dances too. How fascinating is all of this. They do these things naturally and know what to do and when. How clever they are. We do not understand a lot about our natural world but it fascinates me whether I understand it or not. I feel that we underestimate what animals, birds and insects can do. Photo taken by my son who has given his permission for me to use it here.

My love affair with nature

Although I am still ‘taking time out’ in many respects I felt I wanted to write about this theme. I originally thought of writing a book with the above title but decided that it would be far too unwieldy and very pricey to publish. So I decided to make several scrapbooks instead. There is an art to making good scrapbooks and I have made many in the past. This time round I purchased three A4 size scrapbooks with a brown cover and brown pages inside.

I pondered for some time about how to do this but decided that taking specific places like my garden and various nature reserves for each book was the best way. Then came the task of sorting photos for printing. I have thousands of photos on my computer dating from when I had my first digital camera. I also have three or four boxes of photos from before that time.

What I noticed when going through these thousands of photos is that very few were of people or buildings and most were of landscapes and the beasties that live in the landscape. I have found photos of dragonflies taken in 2015, hiding away in a different folder than where they should be. But it has been a wonderful experience looking at the photos and remembering when they were taken and who I was with at that time.

Choosing which photos for the scrapbook is very hard though. I love all my dragonfly, damselfly and butterfly photos so how can I choose just one of each kind? It is the same with the photos of birds feeding in the garden and the many pictures of flowers. I need more ‘time out’ in order to do this but I felt I would like to let you know how I was using my time out.

Transformation

I think most people know about the transformation concerning the butterfly. The butterfly lays eggs on a leaf which then hatch into caterpillars which eat the leaves around them then later they form into a chrysalis and hibernate. The next spring they emerge and transform into butterflies. Some other insects lay eggs in water which then change into larvae. The dragonflies and damselfies do this and can live in the water for a long time generally around one or two years but it can be longer. When ready they crawl out of the water and find a strong leaf or stalk where they begin to remove their outer layer and out comes the dragonfly or damselfly. I have seen the emergence of the dragonfly and it is amazing to watch. As it emerges, it slowly puffs up its body and opens its wings which are iridescent and absolutely beautiful.

Birds lay eggs which hatch and the baby birds eat greedily until strong enough to get their feathers and learn to fly. I have many young birds in my garden and have watched them as they learn to fly and to perch on the bird feeders. All of the natural world can show us transformation. Seeds grow into plants and then flower and make more seeds. It is never ending.

I feel we could learn a lot from watching the transformations taking place in our gardens, ponds and rivers. But we have to learn how to transform ourselves, it does not happen naturally. There are so many influences on our lives that we tend to go with the flow instead of being who we really are. It is too easy to follow the rest and be like them so transforming into a better person with our own beliefs and ways of living can be hard to do. Many do not like to stick out in a crowd! But we are not meant to be the same, we are all unique and need to work on that and transform ourselves into that unique person that we were born as. Take the opportunity to start this process now and see the future unfold as you wish it to be.

Summertime

I seem to remember words to a song going like this,’Summertime, and the living is easy’. I suppose that living is easier in the summer and there is so much to enjoy. I love the blue skies and the sun shining but I don’t like it too hot. The garden is full of different insects. The bees are bussing around the cotoneaster hedge and in the many other flowers.

The young birds are learning to fly and to use the bird feeder. It can be amusing to watch them as they find a way to perch on the feeder. There are so many of them this year. There must have been at least 3 different nests in my hedge as the broods of fledglings arrive in fours and fives.

I already have a lot of flowers in bloom and many more to come as summer progresses. I can see ladybirds in plenty and other flying insects. Soon there may be damselflies and dragonflies as one of my neighbours has a pond.

The hedge is alive with the noise of the birds and insects. It is also very green. One of the things I love about this time of the year is how green everything is, so alive.

But now the Summer Solstice has passed the night is creeping slowly over the day, making each day that little bit shorter. Years ago I wrote a poem for the Solstice. Here it is now;

Solstice Prayer
It is the time of the longest day
When the Sun is at the height of its power
And as the Sun watches over us and feeds us all
So we feed our Inner Fire.
May the power of the One unite us all
Bringing hope and peace to our planet;
May the Ancient Wisdom, the Eternal Truth,
Be warmed by the Sun this day
Let us join together in peace and love,
Let the Sun shine within our hearts,
Let the Child of Light guide us on our way,
As our world is filled with peace and love.

Feelings of awe

My blog is late as I have been staying with my son for a few days. The days were busy as we went to some nature reserves on the Saturday and worked in the garden on the Sunday.

The first nature reserve was Felmersham gravel pits where the old pits have been filled with water and the surrounding trees and meadow land provide homes for many insects. I have visited here before and that time saw many different butterflies. This time we were able to get down to the waterside and watch dragonflies and damselflies searching for food and for mates. I loved the way the sun shone on the water and also on the backs of the dragonflies as they flew around. Magical and awesome.

We then went to a country park which also has a nature reserve but we decided to walk by the river first. Here I was astounded by the huge number of mayflies going up and down in the air like bouncing balls. It was my first sighting of a mayfly and again it was magical and awesome. As we moved away from the river we found a large group of demoiselle dragonflies. I love these with their dark blue wings (the female is green) and I have never seen so many in one place. Another magical and awesome sight. We also saw a heron but he was disturbed before I could get a really good photo of him.

My son has made his garden a haven for wildlife and he is constantly working on this. He has a lovely large pond and it was amazing to spot one morning, a newly emerged dragonfly, drying out on a stalk before preparing to fly. We watched it over a period of time as it adjusted its body and wings before suddenly it was up and away. It flew onto the nearby hedge where it looked golden as the sun shone on its wings. My son has a photo of it on the hedge so I wait for it to arrive on my computer. But it was a really profound experience to see the dragonflies (there were three in total) as they emerged from their skin in which they had spent time in the water as larvae. There was also a red damselfly to watch and then later in the day while we were sitting indoors a jay appeared. He dived into the pond twice before settling on the fence to dry off. Beautiful!

Arriving back home with a large number of plants to put in the garden I had a nice surprise. Last year I had a bed of cosmos flowers and they grew strong and like a forest so I was unable to de-head them after the flowers died. I had noticed before I went to my sons that there were a lot of seedlings growing where the cosmos had been last year. When we got back I saw that the seedlings had grown and were definitely cosmos. I shall leave them to grow peacefully and look forward to their flowers in the summer. It was a wonderful time in nature, magical and awesome.

I have so many photos that it is difficult to decide on one to place here but I will show you the newly emerged dragonfly getting ready to fly away.

Changing seasons

It has been a long hot dry summer but the last couple of weeks have brought us some rain which has been very good for the garden. One day last week I opened the door, as I do every day, to let in the fresh air and to give thanks for all around me. This particular morning was different than the previous ones. It was cooler and fresher but there was also a distinctive feel and smell of the coming autumn.¬† It’s not something I find easy to put into words but the feel and smell is something I recognise and know that autumn is on its way.

Looking back at the days of summer I see lots of flowers, their wonderful colours still there for the coming days. I noticed the number of birds too. I have a large thick hedge at the top of my garden and it has been home to several broods of birds, blackbirds, sparrows and robins. It has been a wonderful experience to watch them grow into adult birds. This last week a sparrowhawk visited as well. Luckily all the smaller birds were safe in the hedge and surrounding bushes.

I have also noticed the large number of bees visiting the flowers. But many of the flowers are there specifically for that purpose, to attract the bees. There are not so many now but they are still coming finding other plants attractive when their favourite ones have finished flowering.

There has been a large number of different butterflies visiting the flowers especially the buddleias which are commonly known as butterfly bushes. I have also seen damselflies and dragonflies whizzing around the garden but not often settling for photos! The plum tree and the brambles (which are not really wanted as they stop other plants from growing) have done exceptionally well and I have lots of fruit in my freezer. There were so many plums that I have been giving them to neighbours. Someone said it must be the fifth year as you get an abundant crop every five years.

But what I have noticed the most is the abundance of everything. There has been wonderful colour, and food for everything that comes into the garden, and watching the birds trying to get the blackberries and plums has been entertaining at times.

So now the season is changing and there will be different things to watch and to do as well. But my main thought at this point in time is ‘Abundance!’

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What do you see?

The other day I heard someone say that they didn’t generally get out and look at things. But do we not always look at things and not go out especially to do that? Maybe not. My thoughts at the time were about missing so much of what is out there around us. But then again I generally walk everywhere or use a mobility scooter as I do not drive.

So let’s look at what I see when I walk into town. I live on a hill which helps me to see much more of the town below me and the far distance. Generally I first notice the parked cars and people walking to work or school. Then I notice the flowers in the gardens as I pass by. I see that some are blooming now but last time I went past they were only in bud. I see the bees and the butterflies taking advantage of these flowers. In the distance I see the church and other tall buildings and in the far distance I can see the tops of houses and some trees. I cross the road and walk down the hill by the side of the cattle market complex. There are lots of shrubs by the wall of the building which houses the sheep and some of these shrubs have flowers. So there are lots of bees around. There are also many small birds which have most likely nested in the top of the building which has open sides. They chitter chatter as I walk past. There is a lot of traffic with many cars having loud music going on and also many people are walking. I wonder if they see what I see. I hear the sounds of the sheep and the cattle as they are put into pens ready to be sold. Now I am ready to cross another road into the town itself and my walk there has been full of interesting sights and sounds.

So here is another example. One day I was sitting in the town park watching the ducks with their tiny offspring on the pond. The ducklings were busy exploring the plants on the pond and then when they were tired they came out and curled up to sleep at the side in the bushes. There were also moorhens with their youngsters but they seemed to prefer a different part of the pond. The gentle breeze made the branches of the trees move and rustle and birds flitted amongst them. There were ripples on the pond caused by the ducks and moorhens as they swam around. I occasionally caught sight of a few damselflies and butterflies too. Across the other side of the pond a man was sleeping on a bench. While I was there he got up and walked away. I could hear the traffic on the main road but it did not really disturb the peace of the pond.

There are so many people who walk around and do not see what is around them. They never look up or down for that matter and often have a mobile phone by their ear. What a lot they are missing!

What do you see?

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The joys of nature

The sun is shining and it is quite warm. It makes me feel so much better. This week I have watched a family of plump baby blackbirds  learn to feed themselves getting worms out of the ground and now they have flown off to make new lives for themselves. As blackbirds have more than one brood I suspect the parents are now getting ready for the next brood.

I have also seen a pair of goldcrests which look as if they are nesting close by. They come into the garden several times a day. And there are many butterflies including some orange tipped ones.

There are also lots of other garden birds too and plenty of insects of various kinds. A question posed by my son yesterday has made me do some thinking. How do the butterflies know which plant to lay their eggs on. Some butterflies only lay their eggs on specific plants so how do they know they have the right plant? The more I look at the natural world around me the more I am amazed by it and the more I realise that I don’t know about it.

I’ve also seen quite a few bees which is good. I am trying to make my garden friendly for bees and other insects but it is going to be a long job as I am limited in how long I can work in the garden at one time. But at least I have the joy of sitting and watching what is going on in the garden and that makes me feel very blessed.

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A good week

The sun has been shining and I am sure that makes us all feel better. I certainly do and getting out in the country park has helped as well. Planned visits to the doctors have also brought me what I needed, an injection in my wrist next week to help me cope with the arthritis which makes writing and doing anything in the home difficult. So all good overall.

Yesterday was spent in the garden with my son, mowing the grass and planting more plants. A walk in the country park followed, me on my scooter though but still very enjoyable.

I have watched the hedge get greener over the last week and it is now almost completely green. The birds are busy chasing each other and building nests. There are butterflies too, small tortoiseshells and some white ones that might just be female orange tips. While cutting the grass a frog jumped out. He had a lucky escape but the area where he was is very marshy and in fact was almost a pond. My son saw a grass snake in the country park and the trees there are in full blossom like the one in my garden.

It is a wonderful time of the year when nature awakes and starts to show us her glory. I feel so blessed to be in this new home and to be able to enjoy it as well. Being in nature is so nurturing and revitalises my soul. I hope you enjoy being in nature as much as I do. Today will be a lazier day but I shall spend time watching the birds and butterflies in the garden and enjoying doing just that. The simple pleasures in life are often the best.

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