Tuesday, 12 December 2017


I am quite happy in supermarkets, their anonymity somehow comforting, particularly in Daventry. Of course I frequently meet friends walking up the aisles as it were, but they never put one on the spot. In Northampton things can take an awkward turn as a stranger, usually someone in early middle age, comes up to me and says, 'It's Mr White, isn't it?' I hurriedly plaster a smile on my face, hopefully hiding the alarm I feel as I grope for a name. It is an ex-pupil, who will reassure me that I 'haven't changed a bit'. It is of course not at all comforting to know that I have always looked like an elderly git, but the anonymous pupil means well. I make an anodyne comment and, if this person is a woman, she will come up with a helpful clue: 'Of course I was Alison Smith then, before I married.'
'Yes, of course!' I respond, allowing a hopefully illuminating smile to light up my fizzog*. We exchange a few pleasantries and move on in search of Shreddies ('Unlocking Morning Energy') or whatever. I feel a slight sense of relief that this person has survived the year or so spent with me and developed into an apparently stable adult.
There are former teachers - my friend Ann Pimm for example - who can recall former pupils in extraordinary detail. I do not share this gift and feel a sense of inadequacy; it is surely not right that I can recall the name, Bryum argenteum, of the moss that grew in the corner of the classroom windows, but not those children who should have been the centre of my attention.
Anyway, I ventured into Waitrose today and did indeed meet a friend, the ever-amiable Pom Boddington. With purchases rapidly completed there was time for a stroll around Daventry.
I have heard good reports of our local Turkish restaurant and I went there with a view to picking up a menu. In the event I was so taken with an olive tree, heavy with fruit, beside the front entrance that I took a picture and moved on, remembering only later that I'd forgotten to get the menu. 'Bless me,' I muttered.
An olive tree bears a good crop of fruit. High Street, Daventry.
12 December, 2017
As I passed the town's churchyard a Chilean Pine, aka Monkey Puzzle, Araucaria araucana wore a crown of snow. The Chilean Pine is a curious species and it is not really a pine at all. It does however hail from Chile where it must frequently encounter snow.
A Monkey Puzzle bears a crown of snow. Holy Cross churchyard,
Daventry. 12 December, 2017
It is rarely self sown in this country although a few seedlings have been reported from southern counties. That it produces seed at all is surprising as, like holly, it is dioecious, meaning that a male and a female tree need to be in reasonably close proximity.
Hard by Daventry's Leisure Centre I passed some alders, Alnus sp. They were probably Italian Alders, Alnus cordata, but I foolishly failed to take a close look. Much of the foliage was still green and intact but the recent cold weather had caused a significant leaf fall. My attention was focused on some of the fallen leaves for they were clearly affected by a rust.
Alder tree leaves attacked by a rust. Daventry, 12 December, 2017
The culprit may be Melampsoridium hiratsukanum but these rusts are not really my field. A closer view does not help to resolve the issue.
A close-up is not at all helpful.
These rusts are nevertheless important as in some cases their attacks can have significant consequences, with Hollyhock Rust, Puccinia malvacearum being an example. More seriously a virulent strain of Wheat Rust, Puccinia triticana, is currently devastating crops in India.
'Tis the season to be jolly!

* Fizzog was a favourite word of my grandmother's. 'What are you bin up to? You've got a crafty smile on your fizzog.' I assume the word is a corruption of physiognomy.

E-mail Tony White on: diaea@yahoo.co.uk

No comments:

Post a comment