Thursday, 21 December 2017

Winter solstice

December the twenty-first, the Winter Solstice. It may be the shortest day of the year in terms of daylight, but this year it certainly isn't the coldest. In fact it is remarkably warm. Being at heart a pagan I would much prefer to celebrate this solstice than what, to me, is the far less believable Christmas. Indeed I could lapse into impressively long descriptions of various Celtic and Anglo-Saxon bacchanalia but by so doing I fear I would lose my corpus of readers - both of them.*
Did today's warm conditions cause buds to burst into flower and fill the air with the heady perfumes of Araby? Did they buggery! As I walked into Daventry today I noticed that even that illogically Mexican stalwart of winter, Choisya ternata, struggled to display a bloom. And why should it, I hear you ask? There would be no pollinators about. Surely no bee would have the foolishness for such a fatuous flight, fraught with...[Now really, Tony, we don't need all these 'f' words].
Choisya ternata in Oxford Street, Daventry. 21 December, 2017
In fact the only feature to cause pause as I skirted Stefen Leys Pocket Park was an ash tree. Common enough of course, but this specimen was surrounded, immured even, by what I at first took to be seedlings.
An Ash Tree, Fraxinus excelsior, surrounded by a forest of suckers.
Stefen Leys Pocket Park, Daventry. 21 December, 2017
They formed a near-perfect circle and are probably just suckers rather than saplings. A tree will sometimes throw up suckers like this as a response to a shortage of water and this may have been a consequence of this year's dry summer.
Matthew Moser called in to see me today. Matt is a farmer and very much one of the 'good guys'. His land extends from Dennett's garden centre south to include Newnham Hill Farm and west to take in Foxhill Farm. He is anxious to farm in as near a traditional manner as possible and asked if I would consider doing an insect survey of the area. This would provide a base line against which to monitor changes in the land's insect fauna. I readily agreed; it will provide an interesting project for 2018 and beyond.

* in fact my blog had 196 visitors yesterday. Hardly a Wayne Rooney tally but at least I'm not talking to myself.

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