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Showing posts from 2016

The Epic Ballad of Springtime

It begins with the whispering of a wind which speaks of warmth and Winter's ending. The soft sprinkling of dew on grass that isn't frozen to tiny ice castles. It begins with a sun whose rays are nourishing, slanting through trees whose leaves are buds of green, waiting to burst forward. 
It begins with blossom on a cherry tree, the lining of a street with radiant blooms and the slow hum of pollinating insects; the unhurried waltz of a bumblebee whose legs are stained with pollen. Listen. The insects sing of a Spring awakening as the slim, delicate form of an Orange-Tip Butterfly settles on a newly budded wild mustard plant somewhere by your toes. 
'I want to do to you what Spring does to cherry trees': you read the creased words by Neruda and look up from the book as a blossom falls beside you, its petals a tiny perfection of pink, winking the sun towards you with all the hope of new beginnings. Feel. 
It spreads from the cherry trees to the woodland, where trees whic…

Easter: Eggs, Evolution and Existentialism

Easter is the time of year when card-designers get highly excited about Spring. You can't move without a picture of a lamb, or a chick, or a daffodil, dipping it's yellow head softly in an imaginary breeze; a motion Wordsworth would be proud of, immortalised on a card. As a fan of daffodils, chicks and lambs, I'm not against this in the slightest. But, as an aspiring biologist, as I receive my colourful Easter eggs from kindly relations, and read the cards whose pretty yellow borders sing of sunny Spring, I can't help but wonder what made the human race act like this - why is it that we are so devoted to what is essentially just a Sunday? What makes us hold onto this concept that, because of a story that approximately only 32% of the world population believe in, this day is a special time deserving of celebration?

The surface answers are obvious: for Christians, Easter is a celebration of Jesus' resurrection, raised from the dead, from death on the cross for the s…

From Death comes Life

There is a small churchyard a few roads from my house. It's where I was christened, where my mother rang the bells for twenty years, where my younger brother was christened and countless family friends married. Though I myself am not overtly religious, I still value the church for its memories, and for the tranquillity that can always be found there.
Surrounded on three sides by roads, one of which I walk home along every day, the quiet and stillness maintained between its walls are a small miracle, and this time of year, the yew trees and tall building are lit below with a riotous carpet of colour, the beginnings of Spring.
As I first enter the churchyard, through the small wooden gate that so many different versions of me over the years has passed through, the sound of the road dies away and is replaced by the soft song of a blackbird, hopping along the path in front of me. As I crouch to admire the tree's blanketing cover of crocuses, a robin watches me from the branches…

Spring is springing?

Just a short one now, following the mammoth writing effort of this morning! I wasn't going to write anything at all for a little while, but, important writings call for effort, and today was officially my first blossom sighting of the year :) 
Blossom is one of my favourite favourite things, which I always forget about until the beginning of Spring comes around and I first start to see it again and I remember that I love it almost as much as I love the burnished reds and yellows of autumn leaves. 
I would like to point out, before you even see the photo, that this is my first blossom of the year. It is very tiny, and very new, and was perched too high up on a tree for my (not tiny) reach to get a decent picture with a steady hand. Nonetheless, evidence, I felt, was required, and so I endeavoured to find a blossom that was at least sort of in reach. It was, of course, the last tree in the Sainsburies car park which I checked. And was, of course, right beside a car with a family ju…

Weekend in the Wet: The Land of "Stripey Cows"

When I told the girls I look after that I was going to be spending a February weekend in Yorkshire, their old home county, they were particularly insistent that I said "hello!" to the stripey cows for them. And the sheep. Of course.
I did indeed say "hello!" to a field of Belted Galloway cattle, a hardy breed perfectly happy left out on the moors in Winter in the fields above Malham Tarn, but I will admit it was said quietly and from what I consider to be a safe distance - I love many animals, but as a general rule, cows are amongst those I avoid if possible, having been on the receiving end of their parental wrath when aged about 8 years old. Old fears stick, it seems.
That's the second half of the title explained. The first half, as it happens, only applies to one of the two days I was there - the first day, in fact, dawned with a winter sun that brightened the chill of the shadows, the icy streams that criss-crossed the narrow roads gleaming in its gaze. …

Species Guide: Your Blogger

As a newbie blogger, I find the idea of any of you reading my (hopefully interesting) future ramblings without any context of who I am pretty strange, so to start, here's a simple, non-eloquent, possibly slightly awkward sounding introduction of your friendly naturalist, conservationist, and first class nature addict: Annabel.

Physical characteristics: 

long brown hair, good length for being thoroughly tangled by the wind when any considerable amount of time is spent outside. Has been known to contain leaves, mud and/or dried grass, much to disappointment of peers.clothes often (always) comprised of those which can be made muddy at any moment, frequently already muddynot in fact normally covered in meerkats, as above photo illustrates, however if it were an option, I wouldn't be wholly against it.as a general rule, smiling, regardless of weather :)

Habitat: Small countryside town in Hertfordshire, England. Most often found extremely stressed and hence hiding in bedroom and/or es…