What makes me happy?
Walking in the countryside near my home, to be brief. I try to do this two or three times a week for my health and general inspiration. I feel I need to be close to nature to try to ‘reconnect’ with it, re-examine my own/ our historical links with the trees, plants, insects and wildlife. It is these days both pressing and enjoyable.
So, a typical walk will take a couple of hours and involve a lot of stopping and starting, intense observation and sensory inquiry. Does this plant in flower have a scent? What colour is it exactly? Are there associated insects or l
inks to other parts of nature? Is there a medicinal or culinary use? Are there any myths or stories or sayings connected with this plant?
This sounds like a serious scientific approach but I don’t know enough botany, ecology etc. for it to be valuable other than in a personal way so I channel it into my writing. The vanilla scent of the gorse, for example, that grows on Lynclys Common, makes me think about childhood holidays in Wales and ice cream on the beach.
I also wonder how many insects visit its gorgeous satin-gold flowers and about its importance ecologically. Rabbits live under it so that’s a clue. Bees seem to love it and it’s the larval food plant of the rare green hairstreak butterfly. And there is an old saying: ‘kissing’s out of season when gorse is out of flower’. Fortunately that is rare, as any romantic country person knows.
The other day I was walking on Llynclys Common and noted a number of wild orchids in flower. There were common spotted orchids, a few solitary butterfly orchids, some pyramidals and the brown, shrivelled remains of the early purples. We haven’t had much rain recently, apart from a couple of thunderstorms, so the common is parched and there are few insects about. The nesting insectivorous birds, like the flycatchers, are struggling.
What I wanted to do was photo some of the brown butterflies and there are meadow browns, speckled woods, ringlets and small heaths about, but they wouldn’t cooperate. They flutter about busily and can’t easily be photographed. It didn’t matter as I left feeling refreshed and slightly younger. All that oxygen! My hearing and eyesight were slightly sharper and I looked forward to getting home and a coffee and biscuit.
If anyone had asked I’d have told them: “I feel great, thanks! Happy.”
A few days later I caught a meadow brown (top photo) and the ringlet at rest. They don't stay still for long so I was fortunate.