This morning while waiting in the rain for the wreath laying part of the service to begin, I was chatting to a complete stranger who was also holding a wreath. He told me a bit about the Festival of Remembrance service he had attended in the Albert Hall yesterday afternoon. After the service he had crossed London on the Underground on his way to Waterloo Station.Many passengers in that train were wearing their red poppies. By chance quite a few French people were also in the carriage and they were wearing their blue cornflowers. Spontaneously the poppies and cornflowers were exchanged with hand shakes and smiles.
Solitary walking provides the opportunity to think about that sort of thing, allows time to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings, to listen for the normally unnoticed sounds that give so much life to a place. I had chosen to try an exploratory walk, so often they are the best kind, so often yielding simple but delightful surprises.
The downlands covered a large fertile area, and well-trodden tracks led off in myriad directions once you rose above the cultivated farmlands that stretched as far as the eye could see. I had been in this general area before, but some years ago now so I was spoilt for choice when it came to following my nose, seeking something new.
The hill ahead of me presented a gentle climb, steeper in places but not too demanding, and I was drawn upwards because the horizon was sitting on the top of the hill, and I had to know what lay beyond. I half anticipated that my ascent would yield the sight of a further hill with its own horizon, so often did that happen.
My anticipation increased as I neared the top, and it now seemed as though there would be a lovely view towards the sea after all, and not another challenge before achieving the reward of seeing the ocean laid out before me. I breasted the hill and stared long and hard. Disappointment and puzzlement came along in equal measure. I was staring at another belt of farmland. Clearly, I had mis-judged how far I had come, obviously I had not travelled as far as I had thought.
Walking slightly downhill now, I headed towards the field ahead of me and saw it was full of sunflowers. I had seen fields of sunflowers before but had never been this close to so many. Their heads were moving a little in the soft breeze that was flowing up the south facing hillside, but they did not turn to face me. They preferred to look in the direction of the sun, even though thin clouds still hid its glow.
Reaching the edge of the field I sat alongside the tall plants and faced the way they were facing as though I was one of them. The relaxation in my leg muscles was welcome as I gazed around to see in more detail where it would be best to continue my walk. After a while I turned to look more closely into the faces of my new companions and realised how similar we were, one to another. Clearly, some of the flower heads had been open for a few days, some of their petals having been forced off by the winds that were a feature of this part of the land, some of their faces looked more lived-in than others, some were fresh and new looking, others were turning away as though shy. Some of the faces were more tanned than others, some were looking at their neighbours whilst others were keeping their distance, somewhat aloof.
Their simple lines then slowly revealed their complex structure, the extraordinary beauty of the way the seeds gathered securely in the centre, the centre that was duplicating the sun itself with the petals acting their own part as the sun’s rays.
The stems of the plants too weren’t unlike the legs of man in some ways, straight or bent, gnarled or hirsute, but all in their own way supporting the grandeur of their crowning glory. On the other hand their foliage was their’s alone. The many tints of green and hints of brown, clothing the whole in a serene cloak of mellow colours.
I recalled the earlier disappointment at not seeing the sea and realised that it was not meant to be like that, instead, I was meant to see a surprise and here it was in all its splendour.
/ / /
sophisticated, strong, curvy
stance attracts me - along
with that subtle perfumey
scent - Upright you stand
tall and sleek - Angelic
creamy white you smile
to the Heavens above
adore your gentle
style - The pride
of your family
From the East amber skies streak
Morning’s golden glory rising
becomes a giant yellow-white cheese melt sizzling
Burning down it’s fiery head
In the pond there’s a bubble, ripple, frog
Smiling its ‘I don’t give a damn look’
With sudden movement he’s up tall and stretched
and his froggy tongue darts out to catch insect
At waters edge hundreds of squirmy long tailed tadpoles
growing, wait to join the chorus
A dragonfly hovers a while before swooshing away
While waterboatman rows all way round pads of lily
The shining sun dances light and shadows
through the longer grasses and trees
Dazzling unexpectedly the one who awakens from sun-bathing
pepper red from too long, an agonising site and dangerously sore skin
Through the garden’s archway
a perfumed breeze fills the nostrils
transcends such simple heady delights
jasmine clematis and honeysuckle scented pleasantries
With silky gossamer velvet coated wings
the brightest yet most delicate of these things
Flutters prettyness as it flirticiously plays with companion
Carefully avoiding the intricate weave of woven spiders web
A hum and buzz from the flapping wings of wasps and bees
as they go about collecting their dusty pollen from each flower
A pretty red ladybird four black spots on wing
and a caterpillar crawling munching lettuce leaves for dinner
A rainbow of colourful beauty
garlands swags baskets and beds (le jardin en fleur)
Few daisies dandelions hold their own
until tomorrows mower sees them gone
Nature’s hands unveil baby birds
trialling first flight from nest
and babbling brook as it rushes chance carried stones
washed, tumbled, turned, have no rest