It’s been – frankly – the crappest winter I can remember. After the last equinox in September I wrote something about the capacity of language to speak about realities beyond concepts, and I finished up by describing the change in season as a crisis. I had no idea at the time that the rather smartass description failed to grasp that the coming crisis would render me almost speechless. If I’ve written very little in the last couple of months it’s because words felt like dust in my mouth. I could go on but I won’t. Most people with any grasp of the steep slope we’re collectively tottering down will understand.
So one thing I could do, I found, was to go through the hundreds of photos I took last year, to try to identify plants and fungi. Most of them were either fairly straightforward or beyond identification – cue for a return visit.
Today we’re back in Lleyn looking towards a grey and bad tempered Irish Sea. Cold, miserable and damp we stayed indoors and I spent the day botanising the garden. I love ferns – I love any group that gives itself up so slowly and after intense study, and today I embraced the challenge that not all ferns are bracken. After photos, close inspection with a x20 magnifier; surrounded with books and hunting furiously on the new BSBI Flora, I can definitively identify the Soft Shield Fern. If that sounds like a small achievement (and it may well be) it felt like a big one to me.
I’ve spent most of the winter in a state of despair but now the allotment is going again, and I’ve a welcome sense of direction and purpose – no thanks to our appalling government.