As with cloud-watching over Wenlock Edge, so with keeping an eye on things at the rookery behind the house. It’s endlessly fascinating: a visual meditation if you like. One thing that happens after the rooks return each twilight after the day’s foraging in the fields, is that there’s a general settling in the treetops. The roost is also shared with a large number of jackdaws. For a time after the general homecoming all seems peaceful, just some low-level muttering between fellows.
And then for no obvious reason (at least not to me) there’s a mass explosion from the wood, followed by a great whirling and swirling, which then may, as spring approaches, evolve into a full-on balletic extravaganza.
Cohorts of rooks and jackdaws divide and swoop, re-gather, execute a Mexican wave, divide and swoop on and on. The show may last for several minutes. If you happen to be walking over the field when it happens, as I was last night returning from the allotment, it can be almost elevating; the sense of avian energy lifting your heels from the earth. Wheeee-eeeesh! Let me join in.
But then, just as suddenly, it all stops. The birds alight in the wood, and all is quietness again. Perhaps it never happened.
A small helping of earth magic for challenging times.
Below Wenlock Edge on the way to Westhope.
The Downs Mill lane two winters ago.
Much Wenlock High Street, Reynold’s Mansion built in the 16th and 17th centuries on the immediate left.
The lane by Wenlock Priory ruins and some fine Corsican pines.
On home territory – a shining on Sheinton Street.
Cee’s B & W Photo Challenge: roads
A bit of an odd phenomenon I thought on Monday as we were walking across Wenlock’s Church Green. And not only because we had sunshine – a rare event over the past few months – but also because the willow tree appeared to emitting its own light. The sunshine was also catching the edge of William Penny Brookes’ grave (1809-1896), he who was the town’s enlightened physician and who in 1850 recreated the Olympian Games as an annual town event. These games attracted national and later international interest. Brookes was in correspondence with Baron Coubertin (often given the credit for masterminding the modern Olympics) who visited Wenlock to see the games for himself. The model that William Brookes had perfected, down to the designing of the medals, was the actual inspiration for the creation of the modern Olympic Movement.
Brookes was a man who operated on many fronts when it came to improving community wellbeing. He was responsible for the arrival of the railway and the gas works, founded a library and the Agricultural Reading Society for working people, conducted trials on children’s bodily fitness and lobbied for the introduction of physical education to British schools. The link above gives a brief summary of his life and legacy to the town, and indeed to the world at large. The house where he lived stands opposite the church, marked with the requisite blue plaque. He is well remembered.
http://www.wenlock-olympian-society.org.uk/ for more information on past and present Wenlock Olympian Games
January Light #22
I know – another made-up word, and it’s all Becky’s fault down to Becky’s inspiring January Light squares challenge. Anyway, I am justifying this particular piece of word smithery on the grounds that these hydrangea flowers were indeed a product of summer sunlight, and so what we see here on a frosty January morning is a manifestation of residual light as it gently decays. This is my ‘story’ anyway.
January Light #21
I take photos of this tree line more often than is necessary. It needs lots of zoom (the hill is on the other side of the town) but it’s a view I see when I’m up at the allotment. Or rather it’s a view I see when I’m leaving the allotment, and turn at the last moment to check what the light is doing over in the Callaughton quarter of Much Wenlock. This version was taken on the last day of November. The large tree is probably an ash, its undercarriage laden with ivy. I’m guessing the small tree is a hawthorn, similary clothed. It’s a feature of our trees around Wenlock Edge – their trunks and branches hung in ivy.
January Light #9
Feel your senses throb to the drummers’ beat, take a donkey ride, guess the name of the little pony, buy your Christmas trees, have nip of gin, or a nibble on a spicy Jamaican pastry, wander about on the Church Green and up and down the town’s main streets, shuffle round the two big crafts tents and buy your last minute special gifts, greet your neighbours, stock up on mistletoe to attract festive kisses, spot a meerkat (!!!?) No wonder Much Wenlock’s annual Christmas fair is the town’s most popular event.
Lens-Artists: On display
Lens-Artists: Abstract Patti’s set the challenge this week. Please go and view her abstract creations.
Some forecasters are telling us to look out, bad weather is on the way, and especially come UK election day on the 12th December. I’m hoping they’ll be wrong. Meanwhile, and in response to Tina’s cold theme @Lens-Artists, here are views around Wenlock taken in early December two years ago. It had its scenic moments, but caught us out too. We’ve grown rather used to mild, wet winters. The header photo was taken in a bit of blizzard, as was the next photo on the Linden Walk.
But there were ‘Christmas Card’ vistas too – and especially out in the Wenlock Priory parkland:
And all was very quiet around the town:
And along the old railway line:
It’s been Michaelmas madness over in the guerrilla garden. November today and these stalwart daisies are still going strong, the late flowering white ones being especially vigorous. I rather hated them when they were inside the garden. They wanted to take over, and when they weren’t doing that, they flopped everywhere. But now set free along the field boundary, they have come into their own: pale drifts that seem faintly luminous in the autumn light.
There have been all sorts of other unlikely hangers on. Cosmos for one. And then a couple of weeks ago the shrubby convolvulus sprouted a host of buds, and now they’re popping open, each day several new silvery white flowers with pale pink stripes. They’ve not been put off by days of downpours, gusty winds or early morning frost. The perennial sunflower Helianthus Silver Queen, with her tall sprays of lemony flowers, has been putting on a show too. She seems to think October is her month to bloom.
Out around the town the lime trees are turning to gold and beginning to shed their leaves. England tends not to go in for spectacular vistas of autumn colour – more a case of subtle fading through many shades of rust and amber. But this year the Coxes apple tree in the garden made some very red apples – good enough for wicked queens to entrap the likes of Snow White. They weren’t many though and now they’ve mostly been eaten in a Tarte Tatin.
The Changing Seasons: October 2019
I find it hard to credit that this pretty little Victorian ink bottle was a throw-away item, of no more value than the empty juice cartons, tins and the general supermarket packaging trash that we
junk attempt to recycle. They were cheap of course, perhaps a penny or two. The base is only 1.5 inches square (4 cms). When it was bought it would have had a cork stopper, suitably sealed. But once opened it was eminently functional. The neck is angled for easier nib dipping and then there are ridges across the top for resting one’s stick pen, and the ridged sides and heavier base would also make spillage less likely.
The one in the photo was found behind our old privies when we were having a hedge of alien snowberry dug out. Graham had a fine time pretending he was on Time Team and excavated quite a little stash – mostly medicine and condiment bottles. But this is my favourite find. It reminds me of Roman glass and I love the colour. I haven’t been able to get its innards quite clean of Silurian clag, but it’s just the thing for a single small flower, a rose bud for instance, one that some careless gardener has knocked off while not paying due care and attention.
Line Squares #30