Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hunting for Water Crowfoot

Gypsey Race at Rudston

Its great to be back working my patch of England , or should I say Britain. If Scotland becomes an Independant country again I will have to rethink my whole 'where home is' status in light of my scottish ancestry. Filey doesn't always feel home. Sutton in Holderness no longer feels home. London has a sense of home for me, and  Dorking never did, but Iona had the effect on me of safe harbour and could be HOME. And there you have it. Home doesn't have to be just one place to me. I can feel home where I am at the time if I am happy and amongst what Ann of Green Gables called kindred spirits.

I have been seriously searching for the home of any Water Crowfoot. I need one for my course. Colin has made me a grapple hook, following the instructions I was given. I did find Water Crowfoot last time I did the survey for Plantlife of the Wild flowers in the 1km Square I was allocated in Filey. I recorded it 3 years ago , or thought I did.
So last week ,I packed a sandwich for us and we took a lovely walk across Filey parish Farm lane to the flowing ditch, but not a sign! 

Beloved had a great idea. He remembered the pond on the top of the Brigg. Not exactly flowing water, but well worth a try on a lovely day. I was expecting the controversy about fencing off parts of Filey's common land to have meant that the pond was off limits. Half of it was fenced off, but a huge part of it was easily accessible. Amongst the loads of lovely weed, was not a bit of Water Crowfoot.
If you know me , youll have already seen my Rudston pictures on #Facebook. So that is the next part of my fascinating life as a planthunter, without benefit of Wardian case. 
Gypsey Race at Maidens Grave

We had a lovely rest of the day, following that mystical stream called the Gypsey Race. We know it well , love watching it flowing every few years through Burton Fleming, love seeing it as a trickle in Weaverthorpe, or as a hearty flow east of Woldgate on occasion. 

The Gypsey Race was flowing well at Rudston, no sign of Water Crowfoot, the Watercress however , was three feet high.

I have found the home of the Water Crowfoot. My tutor says that not one of her students has yet found it. I have ! I have ! Its in the shop selling Aquatics for ponds. Why didnt we all think of that one!


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

John Muir - my perspective

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity...” 
― John Muir

He said:
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.

- The Yosemite (1912)
I have just been into the wild places ,I have travelled through the forests, crossed the seas , seen 
the lochs and the glens , and sat facing the Atlantic Ocean in the windy rain, with my back to shelter and my front covered. I have smelled the seaweed, heard the Oystercatchers and Corncrakes and watched the breakers for hours with no one else in sight , though my companion husband beside me, so not alone. Reading John Muirs writings of the wilderness, he was mostly alone, sometimes with nothing but bread and stick. I've seen Ray Mears (on TV)in the wilderness too, and have a lot of respect for wild campers and those learning and honing survival skills . 
John Muir and his fellow stargazers and foodplanthunters all chose to seek the wilderness-thats the first BUT.

Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.
John Muir

Take your smartphone with you and you might never need to follow a map. The Rescue services are constantly warning those going off for a wild adventure to tell where you are going, use or at least take a map , wear bright clothing etc. Harm can befall you. Second BUT .

In drying plants, botanists often dry themselves. Dry words and dry facts will not fire hearts.” 
― John Muir

I agree with you here John Muir. BUT On my plantlife Course I have to compare plants and investigate flower structures with a hand lens. Comparing the Scurvy Grasses has been difficult. I still cannot say that the one I found on Iona is the Danish one Cochlearia danica or the Sea one , and nothing compares with the living specimens except as to suffice for taxonomic classification. I have to wait until Im home to follow the Flora through .That itself could be seen as a fruitless investigation  . Yet whilst the Scurvy grass used to be salted down to stave off Scurvy on long voyages , nowadays botanists are being employed big time, as always in the pharmaceutical trade to find drugs to cure diseases, no longer Alchemy and Herbalism. So it does matter that classification is exact. 
Did John Muir ever have a headache and chew on willow as the native americans did?

So John Muir. I enjoyed visiting your birthplace in Dunbar, and finding out all about you, the father of the National Parks of USA. A famous Scot now that you've been recognised properly in  Scotland.

I'm back in the land time forgot now OKA Filey North Yorkshire. We got back from the wild places last night. I went straight off to the allotment as decency allowed to take stock and see if my seeds were up , to pick some Chard and to sit awhile. It is not a wild place, but has a remoteness about it . Even when Eddie and John and Mr  H and Bob are digging on adjacent plots we can keep to oneselves. The otherness comes from the sounds of birds and thats all. Sure, the train goes past every 2 hours, and mowers and strimmers sometimes resonate across the plots , nevertheless I can be occupied enjoying watching the Horsetails grow and wishing they were Asparagus  for hours on end in my very own wilderness. 

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Missing the Plot

The Organic garden here at the St Columba Hotel has 2 young full time gardeners. I watch them every day from our dual aspect . They are out there every day battling the horsetails just as I do . We have eaten homegrown Asparagus, rhubarb and salad. I see the neat potato rows and many fleece covered mini tunnel rows of spinach and beetroot (I think) and herbs and beans and peas. They know their stuff , have notebooks full of plans and the grass is neatly patched. I dont know how they manage the rabbits and wild geese .
It took me a while to work out what the nets were on the grass beneath our window. This is Iona after all where spirituality often involves the alternative , big time. So I imagined the networks were the latest expression of Prayer or a 'joining in with the earth', until I realised that sometimes one can look and find the New Age in everything when its not actually there. They are covering  the patches of new grass seeding.
Our friend living on Iona Rev  Joyce Watson wrote a very useful book on the New Age Movement 20 yrs ago and its still available online. When we were re-homing my mothers books , I came across a copy , much annotated as mother does with everything. It made a useful re-read. 

The last time Colin and I went to a service in Iona Abbey was about 12 years ago. We vowed we would never go again as we didn't like some of the liturgy used, and didnt trust the theology behind it. We thought it very New Age. We  were schooled by Colin Urquart and Kingdom Faith Ministries in the 80s and 90s, and read so much about Soap manufacturers and triangles and the evils of certain Martial Arts and New Age philosophies that we  have remained confused christians until the teaching that came with New Wine in the 2000s and this present decade. The Grove book has as Colin Urquart would say 'not lost its anointing', though he usually referred to Old Hymns.

Back in Iona Abbey years later we were very at home. The welcome and housekeeping arrangements were excellent , the Communion Service held no liturgical surprises, and whilst I thought the visiting preacher  was not to my taste, I got some Apples of Gold from what she said.  I think I am beginning to grow up , and have a more rounded view of the ways of doing God.  AS long as I keep reading the Manufacturers Instructions and spend quality time with my Father the Gardener. (As CU once wrote*).

*My Father is the gardener  . 1982 Hodder . by Colin Urquart

Monday, May 05, 2014

Dual aspect rain

We love our room . it has 2 picture windows looking over the sound of Iona to the East and the garden and distant Jura across and being Mull on a fair day. We did go out this morning , walked up to see the Fallen Christ sculpture and then a tour of all the galleries and shops on the island . That took 30 minutes. We did see some lovely things,  island crafted jewellery , hand woven scarves, and watercolours for the holidaymaker-just like Filey really. 

I have enjoyed being indoors today as I have been able to get on with my Plant Identification Course. That has taken me until 3.45pm. Its still raining , not the gentle drips but the soak u thro windy kind. So we have retired to our dual aspect room  where I can use the wifi as no laptops are allowed in the (sun )Lounge. The fire is alight in the small sitting room where the bloggers and skypers and Americans and Norwegians all sit contacting home or trying to organize tours to Loch Ness from Iona in 1 day starting from tomorrow.
Imogen and I have worked out that facebook messaging is the best, and that can be done on the phone from the breakfast table without anyone caring a dam. 

Colin turned to me a while ago and said living in this hotel would be good, just taking meals and lounging around and having walks when the weather is kind. So I guess all my worries about him having a good time in the middle of nowhere with dual aspect rain are unfounded.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Just bragging about Corncrakes

I woke up this morning feeling rather Job -like.
Yes! we had managed the  journey here without incident. The two days of travelling were fun, trains and boats and no planes . The empty train from Glasgow to Oban was amazing . I could move from seat to seat and look at all the views. The windows were clean for the first time I have ever done the West Highland route. The complimentary postcards were a help too, as I could immediately do one to Mother without going in a shop.
Job-like because I have the BBC WEATHER APP on my phone, and when I finally managed to get the wifi working I nearly cried when I saw the weather was set for pouring rain and high wind for the next 4 days. Here I post a link to my Devotional that just happened to be for the day . Here it is in a sentence
Job had to put up with it because he knew God was sovereign.

So we had breakfast and the weather was lovely . A walk whilst the weather held then .
The slow mile or so to the Machair would do. Spouse could manage that I thought. He suggested the Marble Quarry but on the first day I thought that might be pushing it for him. We barely managed Port Ban and back because the wind was so very strong and Colin just can't do head wind since his heart attack. The light was beautiful and so were the colours. C declared it was lovely. My mind was now in overdrive. What if C had another heart attack ,where I cant even get a signal for the phone, what if this really was even more like Job. When he sat down on a bank I started praying hard, get us back , get us back (had he got his nitrate spray). On again and so to the seat just below the Catholic House of Prayer. Nearly back , nearly back.

Heres the end of the story

In the flag just by the seat,  Deo Gratias indeed . 12 inches from our feet- Crex Crex the Corncrake

Thursday, May 01, 2014

in on the plot

Two small boys in Reighton Nursery of the Botanical kind can actually have quite a good time if a visit to the 'cafe ' is factored in. I say 'cafe' but actually it is a small decked area in the middle of a green house down the houseplant end with a few tables and chairs and a vending machine. The boys loved it,  worked out all the options for the money available and enjoyed every mouthful and sip. A blackbird was the entertainment , resident no doubt amongst the verdage . Then on to the seeds. I gave them a sort of free rein.
Reuben chose Carrots and Zak, Sweetcorn . Colin and Zak have planted the Sweetcorn in modules ready for transplanting later . Plastic potlets are sitting in the corner of the yard waiting for warmth. Reuben and I ,with Cleo did serious business on the allotment. Reuben dug his metre square, removed the stones and strung 2 string marker lines across his tiny piece of England. He made the drills, sowed the seeds , covered them and watered them and now he is waiting too for warmth. Bernard my allotment partner will water them  whilst we are away. I am praying for gentle rain every evening as my Asparagus bed breathes a sigh of relief that its only in its second year and the pigeons are hopefully thwarted by the bird scarers . I am on my way to Iona , but thinking of what I'm leaving behind for 12 days and expecting miracles of the Growing Kind.