A Blindfold Walk A string stretched from willow to willow marks the course for a blindfold walk along a stretch of the stream for a party from the local High School. Close your eyes in the wood and you become more aware of the smell of leaves, the riffling of the stream, changes in temperature, the movement of air, the calls of birds.
As a wildlife illustrator I'm hooked on the visual but I'm aware of how much doesn't show up in a painting or on a web page. We have become a visual culture, one example is the perfect looking tomatoes in our supermarkets, which really don't have the taste of the homegrown varieties. It is worth growing a plant for the taste of the fresh picked fruit. We had success with about 5 varieties in the greenhouse this summer, we generally forget which is which, but always, included amongst them, we have the sweet, 'old-fashioned' tasting Gardener's Delight.
Greasy Toughshank fungus is still growing close to the old quarry in the wood.
A flock of 190 fieldfares has descended on the marshy valley field. They are joined by starlings and crows. Crows seem to be the leitmotif bird of the valley and the town.
Goldfinches are regulars in the garden, one of the benefits of being behind with our intended tasks of weeding and cutting back.
Shepherds Purse, Chammomile and Red Deadnettle are in flower on wasteground by the towpath. It is good to see a few wild flowers about; these probably thrive because the soil here is kept disturbed and, perhaps, slightly warmer than the surroundings. They are growing next to main sewer man-hole cover.
Dog Rose has lost its leaves and the glossy, crimson hips show up all the more.
A hint of changes to come. The hazel catkins are already showing, though at the moment they are just stumpy little greenish sausages.
Richard Bell's Nature Diary, Wednesday 2nd December, 1998
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