Monday, June 14, 2021



Ranunculus platanifolius

This photo records one of the high points in my forty years of looking at flowers. Ranunculus platanifolius (Sw: Vitsippsranunkel) is an unusual plant of meadows in the more southerly fells of Sweden. (It also occurs in the Alps.) It doesn't really have an English name but Wikipedia calls it "Large White Buttercup". 

It wasn't an epiphanic moment at the time. I took a hasty snap of the unknown plant as I stood near a waterfall with my mum and dad, who were having an argument about our plans for the day. I took no part in the argument, but I was probably the cause of it. 

Nearly every summer I used to take a week off work and dash off to the north of Sweden to spend a few days with my mum and dad at their summer cottage in eastern Jämtland. During this precious week I was always keen for us to make a short excursion, especially to the tempting fells in the west. But as the years went by even someone as insensitive as me couldn't fail to understand that accommodating my adventurous dreams was becoming more challenging for them. 

I don't have my notebooks to hand, so I don't know exactly what year this was. I guess it was around 2009. (They gave up the cottage in 2013.) But at any rate, thanks to my note in Björn Ursing's Fältflora, I know where we were. I recorded the location as Hamra -- Anderssjöafallet. So we were in Tänndalen, in the far west of Härjedalen county, close to the Norwegian border. I think we had spent the previous night in a hot hotel room in Funäsdalen. After the argument we drove up to a little torp where we ate waffles and had a lovely walk to a little peak nearby (Ramundberget?). Then we had a long and exhausting car journey back to our cottage. We had hardly got going when we stopped to photograph a reindeer herd in a lush valley, but of course that meant we got home even later. On this journey I finally understood how absurd it was that I wasn't insured to take some of the burden of these long drives off my elderly parents. I was fifty and still behaving like their little boy. 


But still, for a decade or more these photos have been hanging on a photo mobile that's accompanied me on all my many moves, becoming a kind of shrine. Most of the other photos on the mobile are of loved ones (for instance, my mum and dad on the mountain stroll later the same day). But the photos portray something abstracted from all the mundane details of their specific locations and dates. A time of my life. A joy already seamed with melancholy but whole-hearted, hopeful, fertile. 


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