Monday, 26 May 2014

A Wayside Feast

Everywhere we go at the moment there are good things to eat, and the promise of good things to come.

The hedgerows are bursting with the ingredients for summer salad - this one had the very last of the Primrose flowers and those are Jelly Ear mushrooms next to it, collected from a dead Elder branch.

Underneath the Primrose flowers are Jack-by-the-Hedge, Navelwort (also known as Wall Pennywort or Penny Pies),

Pink purslane, the leaves and the flowers,

And Wild Sorrel.

I used to consider green salad merely a vehicle for vinaigrette dressing, but salads like this one need nothing other than their own deliciousness to accompany them.  Having said that - we also had steamed wild hops

Not very many because the shoots were mostly high up in the hedge, out of reach,

and fritters with the last of the Dandelion flowers.  I have never managed to take a photo of the finished product because they're to delicious to do anything but eat straight away.  Here they are half made.

Then to finish... homegrown rhubarb crumble, sweetened with Sweet Cicely,

It's a feasting time for everyone,

Although some are clearly luckier than others.

And soon there will be Wild Strawberries.  Hurray!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Bluebell bliss

Bluebells caress my senses as an in-breath of utter bliss.  The sight and the smell make me happy, fill me with a curious excitement. I can't help but wonder what it must be like for the humble honey bee, humming drunkenly from flower to flower, drowning her whole bee-ing in the heavenly fragrance of blue.

Looking through the gate into our nearest bluebell wood during the merry month of May it would be easy to believe that you had accidentally stumbled through the veil and been permitted entrance to Tír na nÓg - the land of infinite beauty and eternal youth. 

It is said that the fairies ring these wondrous bells to summon their people to gather and they cast spells on anyone who damages or picks bluebells.

The white sap that comes from the stem of a bluebell is reputed to be one of the ingredients in witches flying ointment and the means by which you might turn yourself into a hare.  I am gladly imprisoned by their electric indigo power to simply stop me in my tracks and insist that I gather the honey of their sight and smell, stand for a moment and simply breathe.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Everything is an omen

This was one of those magical days when the spirits seem to be pulling the strings behind the scenery of every moment.  I went out for an early morning walk with the dogs and was pondering the whys and wherefores of this blog.... why am I doing it?  Who is it for?  What am I supposed to be talking about?  I went through the gate into a little piece of ancient woodland and immediately felt the threads of answers coming to my questions.

This is the way, said the signpost.

"We want you to show the hidden face of the land.  Share the beauty of the ordinary and transmit your feeling for the sacredness of all of creation."

It was as if the woodland and it's denizens were whispering in my ear, I heard it so clearly, felt it so keenly. As I stepped through the gate on the way out I said out loud "Oh, so it's supposed to be a nature blog?"  I looked down - and this is what I saw.

So now I know.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Lustleigh May Day

Today was a glorious day, it's one of my favorite days of the year. There was music,  

and dancing,

and a procession, as we followed the May Queen and her entourage around the village in this celebration of spring that has it's roots in our ancient pagan past.

The children stop and sing a May song at various places along the way,

before going to the orchard to crown the May Queen.

She sits on a granite throne in a bower of flowers on the May Day Rock which is inscribed with the names of all the May Queens from 1954 until now.

From there she has the best view of her court dancing and of the patters that are woven and unwoven by the maypole ribbons.

And then tea and cake sitting in the sunshine with friends.  We walked home with two of our friends, leaving two behind.  We left them markers along the way so they wouldn't get lost

none of which they noticed

but they made it back none-the-less.   What a perfect day.