There’s nothing quite so satisfying as pulling out the entire dandelion root. Taking the time to excavate deeply and carefully, loosening the soil around the little blighter and then gently easing the long tap root from its securely anchored position. So much more rewarding than hurriedly snatching at it and only achieving decapitation or partial root severance resulting in future re-growth and expansion.
So what other things do we now have the extra time to do at the moment? There is something that it appears a lot of people are doing – and I’m not referring to Zoom parties, online washing seminars and virtual face masking. No, it seems time away from the “old normal” high-pressure, fast-paced life has led to a new awareness – that there is something else that is going on around us … it’s called nature!
Yes, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, some people noticed there are other living creatures out there. News reports of badgers, foxes, hedgehogs and squirrels being sighted in and around gardens as if Attenborough himself had discovered new species! Apparently taking advantage of our disadvantage, some of our native fauna have come out to play and astonished the good folk of suburbishire, commutersville and citytown, not only by their brazenness but indeed their very existence!
“Oh my lord, look, it’s a bird! And it’s singing!” Yes, without traffic and plane noise the robins and blackbirds can be heard and don’t have to strain their little birdy larynxes to compete any more. “Wow, look! That tall brown stick thing has turned green. Amazing! Oh and it’s got those feathered things talking to each other. I think they’re called butterflies!”
Nature is, and always has been, a balm, a calm, a soother of fraught minds. Whether lovingly tended in a garden or red-in-tooth and claw-in-the-wild, it is always fascinating, puzzling and beautiful. Deadly too, as we know to our cost, but we abuse it at our peril. When a “new normal” is ushered in, will we remember nature and how important it is – or will we revert to the “old normal” and continue to chip away at the fragile framework that underpins our world?
For now the natural world carries on, ignoring our human predicament. The Coledale cuckoo is echoing around the valley and the ospreys safely returned from West Africa to their Bassenthwaite nest. Swallows and martins are above us in the sky and we await the screaming swifts to inform us that proper Summer is here.
The great migrations are happening. The May is blossoming, daffodils, bluebells and primroses have all enjoyed a bountifully floriferous year. Orange-tip butterflies – the first of our native butterflies to emerge in Spring (peacocks, tortoiseshells, admirals are warmed back to life after hibernation) – have danced their way through our spring brightness and all seems right with the world. But, of course, it isn’t. Not our world, or theirs.
Dandelions, of course, are unwanted weeds in a cultivated garden. Beyond the domestic boundary, however, the golden yellow flowers on verge and in field are bright and beautiful and the perfect fluffy sphere that is the seed-head is an extraordinary piece of nature’s engineering. Take the time to observe one. It is also a child’s delight I was reminded, as I took the time to watch the SGG twirling around and giggling as the sphere disintegrated and dispersed the seeds on the breeze.
Bah! Just when I thought I’d got rid of them!