In recent months my book review posts have filled every weekly slot on this blog. My tagline: “Tasty writing surprises (non-fattening!)” is hardly accurate. My valued readers must feel they know what to expect. So here is an attempt to provide something a little less predictable.
My 7th blogging anniversary is approaching. Sue’s considered trifles was my first blog. WordPress will surely remind me on 23rd July that I have been blogging for 7 years. Anniversaries are good times to take stock of what has gone before and to plan for the future.
While I have been reviewing books, I have not been doing much creative writing. However I have a number of poems (or verse if you prefer) which I have written sporadically over the years. One of those has recently appeared on the blog of another member of the Association of Christian Writers. Trevor Thorn, writing for the More than Writers blog, invited others to contribute their poems about climate threats. As I had written a few rhymes, which met his criteria, I sent them to him. One has already appeared on his blog, The Cross and the Cosmos in a post about light pollution.
Perhaps I should write some more poems about the natural world and faith. Christians believe that God was the originator of everything that has being. That simple statement gives rise to all sorts of debate. However one thing which is certain is that Christians have a responsibility to look after the natural world and to encourage others to do likewise.
Much of my blogging recently has been in the form of microblogs on Twitter. The Sunday evening #wildflowerhour has been keeping me busy. With others from all over Britain I post photos of wildflowers I have seen during the preceding week. When I began taking part in this Twitter chat, I was aware of the names of various wildflowers. I had no idea how many different species of flowers there are in the various families. When I was younger I used to answer hubby’s questions about many flowers I couldn’t name, saying: Some sort of vetch, I suppose. That has become one of our jokes. Now I am able to name a few vetches – correctly, I hope. I am beginning to learn the names of other flowers too. The first thistle I have learned is the spear thistle. I have had to relearn the names of the plants in the Willowherb family. Rosebay Willowherb, I have known from childhood. I thought the only others were greater and lesser, but it turns out that there is Great Willowherb and a whole bunch of others named after the shape of various parts of the plant or its usual habitat. It would appear that the saying attributed to Albert Einstein, “The more I learn the less I know,” is true in this instance. It can feel overwhelming to realize how many different species of flowering plants there are.
It would be easy to become defeatist, thinking: I’ll never learn all of the names, so why bother?
On the other hand walking in the fresh air and noticing one’s surroundings is good for mental and physical health. There is enjoyment in looking at photos other people have taken of plants, which perhaps do not grow in the part of the country where I live, also in seeing the same plants are in flower elsewhere. Experts (and those with more limited specific knowledge) are happy to help with plant identification.
I have begun to use a notebook to catalogue my wildflower photos, but I am taking photos faster than I can update my list. Again it is no good giving it up as too demanding a job. Using a few minutes here and there might result in a useful list even if it has to wait until the dark winter evenings.
Helping to record the wild plants in various areas can go a little way towards looking after the natural world. Through the efforts of activists on Twitter a local council recently protected some rare wild plants from being mown down too soon.
While I am writing about difficulties, I now have a dilemma about a poem I wrote, when my ignorance (about the extent of the willowherb family) was bliss. Thinking incorrectly that greater and lesser were proper flower names, in November 2015 I wrote:
To a wayside plant
Unwelcomed by gardeners,
you establish yourself in swathes
along routes familiar and strange,
spotted from motors and trains
by observant travellers.
In summer your purplish spikes
provide nectar and bright colour –
a change from late-spring white
of meadowsweet and thorn.
Your staggered coloured flowers
at last give way to curled wisps
of white like thistledown,
while your leaves turn red,
or yellow and brown.
Your greater and lesser cousins
are not as well known:
you are the most successful willow herb by far!
Perhaps it only needs a minor edit such as “taller and smaller” to make it accurate.