Viola

Crack between paving slabs;
little viola takes advantage.
Nature's small victory.

On My Bike

Out on my bike I notice
too many dead critters on the road.
Nature can be cruel
but this is not Nature's doing.

Regardless

Whatever life throws at us
Nature carries on regardless.
She knows when the seasons turn
and now the snow has gone,
in the rockery I find
new buds on a primrose, while
in the lawn the first few tips
of snowdrops show.

Life and Death

A few weeks back I wrote a short poem about the pigeons nesting in my cherry tree (Late Brood). They are still there. The leaves have not yet turned autumnal although some have fallen and the tree is thinning out.

A few days ago I found a dead chick, just beginning to show signs of fledging, on the ground underneath the nest site. The mother pigeon was still sitting so I assumed there was at least one and possible more up there though I heard no sign and saw no sight of them. Still she sat, a good mother if not a good nest builder!

Over the last few days we have noticed some movement in the nest, which I can see from my kitchen window. I got out the binoculars to have a better look but the view was blocked by the parent bird. Today, however, I saw her feeding a quite substantially sized chick, looking reasonably well fledged and almost ready to go, big enough that Mum was confined to the edge of the nest.

Now the question is did the dead chick on the ground simply fall to its death? The nest is flimsy and not very protective after all. Alternatively did it die in the nest of ‘natural’ causes and was ejected, or was it pushed out by its bigger sibling?

I guess I’ll never know and I’m still left wondering if the surviving chick will grow on well enough to make it through the winter. Nature can be so cruel.

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Sapphire

Iridescent sapphire,
one of nature’s gems,
flashes by my window;
a darting dragonfly.

Not Natural

Dead fawn
at the roadside.
Nature is cruel,
but this death is
not natural.
Heart-breaking.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
We have just got back from a long weekend away, checking on our boat and attending a family gathering. This poor dead fawn was by the roadside about half-way into our journey to the boat and is the second young deer I have seen killed on the road in the last couple of months.

Another Quote

“We have come to see ourselves as lords and masters of the Earth,
entitled to plunder her at will. The sickness evident in the soil,
in the water, in the air and in all forms of life are symptoms
that reflect the violence present in our hearts. We have forgotten
that we ourselves are dust of the Earth; that we breathe her air
and receive life from her waters.”

Pope Francis, 2015

More Quotations

“The cowman who clears his range of wolves has not learned
to think like a mountain.
Hence we have dustbowls and rivers washing the future into the sea.”

Horace, Epistles I, 20 BC

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field
till no space is left and you live alone in the land.”

Issiah 5:8

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
These quotations are also from the chapter headings to “Wilding” by Isabella Tree (see previous post)

Quotations

“Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Husband it and it will grow our food, our fuel and our shelter, and surround us with beauty. Abuse it and the soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it.”

Atharva Veda, Sanskrit scripture, c. 1200 BC

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“The Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt
President of the United Sates, Letter to all State Governors
on a Uniform Soil Conservation Law, 1937

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

These quotes are taken from “Wilding, the return of nature to a British farm” by Isabella Tree (2018.  ISBNNo:  978-1509805105). This is a truly inspirational book that should be read by everyone who has a care for nature. It tells it like it is and demonstrates how the degradation of nature can be reversed cheaply and simply to the benefit of all.

Why Cycle?

We went out for a 15 mile bike ride this morning on our modern road bikes. We had expected it to be fine though cold but in fact it was quite mild and sunny – sunglasses needed for the first time in ages; the sun was right in our eyes on the outward journey, still being low in the sky. We passed the spot where a big beech tree was blown down across the road in strong winds a few days ago. The road had been cleared and the main trunk lay like a beached whale in the field beside the road.

While riding I found myself pondering why I like to cycle. Obvious reasons are for fitness and to get out in the fresh air. I have always had a bike but for various reasons have not always ridden a lot, not as much as I do now. I have also always enjoyed walking but my husband now has trouble with his knees and can’t walk very far so he prefers to ride a bike, which he can do without any problems. The result is either I walk on my own, which I do from time to time, or I go with him on my bike. Fortunately we are only a stone’s throw from open countryside which is great as it only takes a few minutes to get out beyond the houses.

Another reason for cycling is that you can see so much more from a bike than you can from driving in a car. You can notice seasonal changes, for example, much more easily as you travel at a slower speed. You can, of course, notice even more walking but you can travel further on a bike in any given amount of time so have greater scope for seeing these changes.

Today, apart from the felled tree and amongst other things, I noticed how the snowdrops are still going strong, I could see bright yellow crocus in gardens that we passed and how some daffodils are already in flower whilst other are still only just pushing through. We also disturbed a bunch of rooks who flew off with their raucous chatter, though I couldn’t quite make out where the rookery was. You also get to hear the birds singing, twittering, calling – something it is near impossible to do from a car.

We did also have to negotiate a flooded road from the recent rains, always a bit risky as you don’t know how deep it is or if any pot-holes are lurking in the murky water. It stretched the full width of the road and was some 20 – 25 feet wide. Hubby went first, the water didn’t come up much more than just over the wheel rims and there didn’t seem to be any hazards so I followed on, rather too fast I think as I ended up quite well splashed!

People often cite road safety as a reason for not cycling and traffic can be a problem – we have experienced many so-called ‘close passes’ when a passing car nearly brushes your leg then cuts quickly in front rather than wait to find enough space to overtake safely. A recent article I was reading on the subject in our Cycling magazine stated that those cycling at below 10 mph were at most risk and those who are safest cycle at above 12 mph. Where does that put us? We usually ride along at a comfortable cruising speed of between 10-12 mph! This is the best speed in my opinion to not cause other traffic too many problems and yet slow enough to enjoy the environment. There is an on-going campaign to educate drivers about cyclists and encourage them to allow 1.5 metres of space when overtaking. This will be included in future editions of The Highway Code, but still only advisory – in many European countries it is the law.

As we cycle along we often pass, or are passed by, other cyclists and usually try to catch their eye and give a cheery greeting. Sadly, many of those who cycle at the “safer” speeds of over 12 mph do not respond. The are simply focused on pushing the pedals round at maybe 16+ mph, eyes fixed a few feet in front of their wheels or on their cycling gizmos for recording their ride and its stats, quite often with earphones in their ears listening to heaven knows what. They are completely oblivious to the world around them and any enjoyment of their surroundings – surely this is a dangerous way to ride. All they seem to care about is beating their own, or somebody else’s Strava record for that particular route. Sad! They might as well stay on their turbo trainer at home.

To my way of thinking there are very few things you can do that costs little and enables you to keep fit whilst enjoying spending time with nature than riding a bike, especially if you take your time to look around you with awareness – after all, if there is something you want to take a closer look at, like when we saw a midday murmuration of starlings recently, you can always stop for a short while; it’s a good excuse for a rest!

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