Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Shades of grey

Yesterday was very cold, with fog mantling everything in a desolate shroud, devoid of any colour. The snow had gone from all but the most sheltered corners but as I picked my way through a belt of woodland beneath leafless trees I nevertheless felt the bleakness expressed in the Debussy prelude, Des pas sur la neige. The prelude which follows it is called Ce qu'a vu le vent d'ouest; certainly we could have done with a brisk westerly to sweep away all this chill.
The sun struggled to break through. Christchurch Road, Daventry.
18 December, 2017


Today Chris had an appointment at Northampton General Hospital for a further session of medication. She has made a full recovery and today's treatment is designed to make sure that there can be no return of her illness. The forecast had been for thick fog again but mercifully it had been swept away, not so much by Debussy's wild, swirling wind but by air moving in more stealthily overnight.
Rooks are among the earliest of British birds to nest but on the way to Northampton I was surprised to see great activity at the rookery adjacent to Junction 16 of the M1. Although their nests often seem precarious and exposed to winter gales today, in the lovely sunshine, nest-building was going on apace. Good egg!
Chris's treatment involves an infusion and this process can take over three hours. During this time, if she has a nap, I steal off to have a stroll around the hospital grounds or perhaps a little beyond. Today my walk took me through the grounds of the rather attractive St Giles, one of the towns larger churches.
The winter sun lit up Giles Church, Northampton. 19 December, 2017
It is very popular with local office workers but also vagrants and people who are damaged psychologically. It is right that the churchyard should be a refuge for them but the unfortunate consequence is a lot of litter involving bedding and so on. What is inexcusable is that other visitors of sound body and mind also leave a variety of rubbish including food scraps and this attracts a host of wild and feral creatures. Crows, jackdaws, rock doves (street pigeons) and, in the evening, rats, are the beneficiaries. But most people are happy to see grey squirrels there. Inevitably they have become very tame and will occasionally take food from the hand.
Grey Squirrels rummage through the leaf litter. St Giles churchyard,
Northampton. 19 December, 2017
I pushed on into the town centre. With shoppers scurrying around seeking gifts or laden with same, the streets were humming. Humming too was the gentleman behind whom I stood in the bank. He paid in a remarkably large amount of money but when he left a bank employee surreptitiously pulled out a deodorant and gave the area a few discreet sprays.
Back to the hospital where Opium Poppy, Papaver somniferum, was in bud. We may be near the winter solstice but Penstemon was fully in bloom; however, with the best will in the world there was little of interest to the botanist or gardener. Even if there had been areas ablaze with flowers nothing would have distracted the busy shoppers fired by Christmas spirit, a short-term oniomania.
Penstemons provided a splash of colour in flower borders.
Northampton, 19 December, 2017






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