Vintage nature notes 2013

In 2013, I wrote a series of short posts about nature, reflecting on the small beauties that I noticed each day. The idea of posting about small beauties came from Jacqueline Honeybee Durban.

25 June
A man slowing his car whilst a squirrel scampered across the road, and smiling indulgently as it skittered off, probably oblivious to its near miss. A front door left open to let in the sunshine and fresh air. A man with tiny dreadlocks with rainbow colours of thread wrapped round them. All seen within five minutes of each other. Also, the sunshine, the flowers… valerian and ox-eye daisies and those blue meadow geraniums.

27 June
The new cat came out from under the bed and purred. There was a tern jinking about over the River Thames. The wild roses on the river bank.

5 July
A swallow skimming very low over the river. The lacy froth of elderflower blossom. The play of shadow, sunlight and reflection on the green depths of the river.

8 July
A black-headed gull preening itself on top of a lamp-post. The blue flowers of chicory along the river-bank. The grace of a solitary rower. The candy-stripes of convolvulus. A rabbit running across the cycle path in the early evening sunshine.

9 July
A bright pink mallow plant growing among parched yellow grass. A yellow rose reaching for the sky. A man on a bike wishing everyone good morning.

3 ducklings (so pleased to see them, as they’re a bit late this year). A couple holding hands and swinging their arms. Being greeted by the cat on arriving home.

10 July
The woman at the bus-stop in the minty-green salwar kameez with lovely embroidery on it, who smiled back at me when I smiled at her (and a smile can really transform a face). A collared dove, doing its best to epitomise the term “dove-grey”. The high wispy clouds in a very blue sky. The silvery willow trees rippling in the breeze. Purple loosestrife flowers. The pink pom-poms of the thistle flowers.

11 July
Both cats got on my lap and purred this morning (not at the same time as each other).

The dome and minaret of Oxford mosque (on Cowley Road), glimpsed through trees from the top of Rose Hill. A bird singing fit to bust from the top of a tree. The poplar leaves turning silver.

15 July
Weekend beauties, small and large… eating dinner outside overlooking the garden with my boyfriend.

Attending M and K’s religious civil partnership and Unitarian wedding on Saturday. Seeing their love confirmed and celebrated publicly. The beautiful gardens of Unitarian meeting Bristol. Seeing old friends.

On Sunday, back in Oxford – went swimming with my boyfriend, and we saw lovely little blue dragonflies skimming over the water, and were at eye-level with the coots and moorhens. And there was a young lad there who swam his first three yards or so.

Today, gloriously sunny, birds singing. The little patch of pink-and-white striped convolvolus has spread even further. And there are even more chicory flowers.

23 July
Never thought I would be happy to see clouds – beautiful silvery-grey patterns and swirls

25 July
the massed lead and silver of the clouds, ready to pour more rain on the thirsty earth. The heavy rain last night that cooled everything down. A flock of Canada geese and goslings in a field. The chicory, purple loosestrife, and meadowsweet along the river.

31 July
a red umbrella under a tunnel of green leaves. A group of cherries ripening on the tree.

27 August
Big fat rosehips, pale snowberries, ripening blackberries, and huge clusters of rowanberries. Monkey balsam. Michaelmas daisies. Autumn is coming, and it’s going to be good for berries.

28 August
About six weeks ago, I noticed two small elegantly hand-painted signs, with string stretched between them, over a piece of freshly dug earth on the verge of Meadow Lane. The signs read “wild flowers”.

Now the flowers have come up and are blooming – some calendula and a bell-flower.

29 August
The shiniest cleanest narrowboat I have ever seen – navy blue, shiny brass portholes, called Meandrine. A couple of sober-suited and serious-looking crows. The quiet camaraderie of the drunks on the river towpath (in contrast to the slightly uptight-looking commuters on the street).

The last few days I have been noticing a vivid red rose against a whitewashed wall.

4 September


Light reflected off the water onto the side of a building.

Trees reflected in the water, shimmery and green.

Sky reflected in the water, blue and mysterious.

A narrow-boat reflected in the river – bright and colourful.

24 September
Every spider’s web bejewelled with dew from the morning mist. The red leaves of Virginia Creeper and Boston Ivy draped over walls and fences.

8 October
A cat that looked like the Egyptian god Anubis. The sunshine. The reflections of the light from the water bouncing off the trees. A second and fuzzy shadow of me, made by the light from the water. Golden birch leaves, red virginia creeper, snowberries, tall lavender-coloured roses.

21 November
Green and gold leaves alternating on a silver birch. The first frost yesterday, leaves of many different shapes outlined with tiny crystals of ice. Autumnal trees, red, gold, copper. A rowan tree with blush-red leaves and berries the colour of pale peach flesh. The way the autumn sneaks up on you gradually.

22 November
What a beautiful morning. The sun is shining, the air is crisp and clear. The trees seemed almost to be glowing from within, with the gold and copper of the leaves lit up by the sun. Red dogwood stems stood out boldly against the background of a dark wood. A flock of Brent geese came down on the river, honking madly.

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