Thursday, April 20, 2006


Oh my god, sang the stones, wheeling across them, no sooner than I thought it.

I was doing 70 - ish - and almost bung on the wheel. Calm down, calm down, I assured myself all round. This is good. I'll just pull the journey by one side, nothing to do for twenty miles anyhow.

It was the cold spring had made me think. Anyhow, it had been waiting a dozen years; but you can't ever forget words of that nature.

When I got to the nub I saw how vague it was in my mind now. I thought there would be one wood and eventually I narrowed it down to four.

Others have merely died,
Their genes dust in their gods' sawdust...

The first was Long Wood, larched and cratered, studded with cartridges. The 2nd was Ivy Wood, shining in its own rust. The 3rd was Eye Wood, mainly a drift of starry celandines. As each showed its true colours a stab of enjoyment (if you can call it that, but so it was) broke into my sleep.

The fourth wood was different. It was heavy with wood anemone and wild garlic and it was Primary, - so I thought maybe I was on it now. It was Shytte and Strewn Bogroll Wood, too. This was in the armpit of an old crossroads. The crossroads was barren and it was one of those stations in a long journey when you face up to things.

But it wasn't "Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem", that hypothetically common name that tells you everything about the none-impact of Gagea lutea on British culture. The older books, more frankly, just call it "Yellow Gagea". This scarce, reclusive plant has never made any mark.

I reach towards what has never made any mark; I believe we can have an honest relationship.

What I remembered about G. lutea was, 1. It is rare. 2. It is easy to overlook. 3. It flowers in April. 4. It rarely flowers. 5. It grows among lesser celandines and looks exactly like them.

These cheering thoughts (not precisely true, by the way) sent me home content at 19:00, to have only stretched my eyes on miles of serpentine quilt.

I was almost as content (a few days later) when I finally made it inside Camber Castle (a dream emplacement, it floats somewhere down in the marsh country and every so often you catch a glimpse of it and you can hardly believe it exists because there's no roads to it) - and yet failed to locate the Wall Germander which is long-documented here.

Others have merely died, I hummed, I rubbed my hands around the floor of that ocean, hand-washing, as you might say, caressingly.


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