Re: Nature writingsMar 24th, 2005
Quote: Originally Posted by peapodThen it's Gretel Ehrlich, and another for my list
grgrgrgrgr..yes she was struck by lightening, thats probally why she is such a great writer :P
"Sometimes, bluebells act as pure memory. I have seen them growing in the very middle of Sussex fields, a faint line of that unmistakable hyacinth blue drifted through the meadow grasses. Why here? Why that slightly wavering line, as if drawn with a crayon across the slope of the field?
Ah yes, of course, they are marking the route of an old hedgerow, dug out when the fields were rationalised thirty or forty years ago, but persistent despite everything that has been done around them.
Or even more remarkably, I have seen them in full flower on the Treshnish Isles to the northwest of Mull, surrounded by puffins, the Atlantic birds strutting and preening on the open Hebridean hillside, while the bluebells nod and blow beside them, perhaps the last remnant of a small piece of woodland that disappeared before anyone recorded it.
Or the knottiest of Welsh valleys, on the banks of Cumbrian becks, high in the Scottish Highlands, even on the ramparts of west country Iron Age hillforts: of course the bluebell is the flower of the UK.
At heart it belongs to woodland.
The British bluebell woods, if they were in some other part of the world, tucked away in the Balkans or some hidden valleys in the Tien Shan, would be the most famous of all botanical marvels. But because they are in our backyard, they were for a long time taken for granted.
Only in the nineteenth century did people begin to notice them much. Then, quite rapidly, the British fell in love with their flower, Keats near London, Tennyson in Lincolnshire, Gerard Manley Hopkins in Wales and William Barnes in Dorset all becoming enraptured with ‘the shaded Hyacinth, always Sapphire Queen of the mid-may.'
It is Hopkins who will remain the poet of the bluebell. More than the beauty of the individual flower, he noticed the wonderful, massed field of blue that the flowers create in the shade of a wood, ‘the level or stage or shire of colour they make hanging in the air a foot above the grass.'
That is something which no one had noticed before and remains at the heart of the bluebell's beauty. It is one of the miracles of this country: light pushes through in patches on to the green wood floor where the plants have just come into flower.
There are pools of last year's oak leaves still lying about. Next to them the thick green pad of bluebell leaves shimmers in the sunlight like a damask, high gloss in parts, folded over into dullness in others.
It is a half-lit green darkness and in it the glamorous and seductive eyeshadow presence of the bluebell's blue, a nightclub colour in the low lighting, beyond any sweet pink innocence the apple blossom can manage, is the sexiest and smokiest colour you will ever see in our landscape, a haze of Isfahan in the green woods of Britain.