Tuesday, July 30, 2013

instant history - 30th july

Arrhenatherum elatius (False Oat-grass) turned strawy around the tenth of July. Of all seasonal changes by a single species, this can reasonably claim to be the one that affects the appearance of the countryside most profoundly, even though most people don't know what False Oat-grass is. The straight stems, already bare of seeds, glowing white, underlighting the whole landscape.

Blackcurrants were picking-ripe around 20th July. Bunches of green fruit on the brambles, some of them tinged with a flush of red. A big year for walnuts, green fruit covering the trees. Bunches of pale keys on the ash trees. Green haws. The first fallen plum beside the road.  Rowanberries are the kind of mustard-brown colour that means they're not ripe yet, but they're on their way.

And the other grasses, and the wheat fields, all golden. The leaves of the trees darker. It has been an exceptionally hot July.

Now we can see nearly all the flowers that will carry on with us through late summer and autumn. Common Ragwort at early height. Knapweeds out. Hemp-agrimony out. Tansy out. Yarrow out. Woolly Thistle out. Perennial Sow-thistle just out. I haven't noticed Bristly Oxtongue yet*. (*nb seen August 1st in Sussex)

Elsewhere, some surprisingly dingy road-verges: Mugwort, Teazel, and Burdock. all in flower, with Hemlock in fruit.

Wild carrot is now the most noticeable umbellifer. Wild Parsnip is freshly out. Upright Hedge-parsley is doing its low-key wiry thing. Fool's Parsley on disturbed ground. Stone Parsley looking good, a mass of slender green stems. Hogweed coming back into flower after a few rainy days.

Rosebay Willowherb and Great Willowherb at height. The smaller willowherbs are fluffily seeding, so is Creeping Thistle.

Buddleia at height. The earliest of the N. American Goldenrods are just starting to show. A wall is white with Russian Vine.

Broad-leaved Dock now shrivelled, maroon-coloured.

Wild Clematis (Traveller's-Joy, Old Man's Beard) at height (the flowers, I mean). Bindweeds at height.
The flowers are still around, but harder to see, swamped by vegetative and fruiting matter. E.g. Suddenly glimpsed, beautiful purple blooms of tufted vetch among a mass of grasses and brambles.
Lords-and-Ladies berries going red..


Friday, July 26, 2013

interim cluttered desk

Anna Karenina in the car (Librivox); listened to it all the way through, entranced; now I'm listening to it again, a bit more fitfully. 

When I grew up it was axiomatic that this is the greatest of all novels. Perhaps that's still a widespread belief, but scratching around for modern commentary I've little real sense of the commitment,  the study, the excitement and the debate that surrounds e.g. Moby-Dick, Ulysses... Not, indeed,  that this is a definitive measure of greatness.- even if I believed in "greatness".

F. R. Leavis did. He also approved of Anna Karenina. He said: "It is, surely,  THE European novel." You wonder what he meant by that and who were the other candidates. Europe is such a big place, and there are so many novels! Of Spain alone, to take only one country as an example, what a vast and proud sequence of novelists! Libro de Buen Amor, La Celestina, Lazarillo, Cervantes, Galdos, Azorin, Perez de Ayala, Pio Baroja, Valle-Inclan, Gabriel Miro, Jesús Fernández Santos --- just thinking of what I've got lying around at home.  You don't think of Leavis as having much sympathy with any of these writers' work, what I know of them. You don't think of him, really, as bothering with sympathy. But how could this narrowness of focus do anything but disable him from comments on the European novel? And then, unjustly maybe, you perceive that what he means about Anna Karenina is: "It is, surely, the best choice of token continental novel for an English reader."

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Evert Taube, Rosa på bal / Rosa at the ball

Rosa på bal  / Rosa at the ball

Tänk att jag dansar med Andersson,
lilla jag, lilla jag, med Fritiof Andersson!
Tänk att bli uppbjuden av en så'n
populär person!
C F  E7  Am  F-G7-F-G7 F-C

C               C+         E   F          Dm
Here I am dancing with Andersson!
          G7                              C
Fancy that, little me, with Fritiof Andersson!
C               C+       E    F            Dm
Rather impressive that he chose me - 
          G7   C
this celebrity! 

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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Dropwort (Filipendula vulgaris)

Filipendula vulgaris flowers

Photos snapped on my mobile yesterday evening (1st July 2013) at Biss Meadows, Trowbridge.

Dropwort (Filipendula vulgaris) is a plant that, by some chance, has never grown really commonplace to me - I see it now and then, but always when I'm off my regular beats. Here it's growing in the dryest part of a water-meadow reserve, among ox-eye daisies.

Contrary to what Wikipedia currently tells us, the flowers are not "tiny". In fact the first thing that says to me that I'm not looking at Meadowsweet (F. ulmaria) is the larger and showier flowers.

Filipendula vulgaris, basal leaf

Most of the basal leaf, anyhow.  They get quite long.

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