Growing

Flowers are like ideas; they bloom when we aren’t watching. All of a sudden, they are there, where they weren’t before, sometimes just a fragile shoot, sometimes a flower fully unfurled. I wonder if it would be possible to witness a flower’s birth. If I had the time and the patience to gaze at a patch of ground, would I see the moment the shoot broke the soil? Perhaps this is one of nature’s private things, slow and hidden to allow the magic to get in. Like the idea that has germinated slowly in the soil of the imagination, but is suddenly there when you need it.

Quite suddenly, the rafts of vivid dandelions have become clocks. The road to the dene has sprouted clouds of cow parsley, peppered with dandelions and a little Herb Robert. The hawthorn unfolds bashfully, most blooms no more than ivory beads, but some boughs offering thick white blossom in contrast to the parsley’s lace. Pinpricks of purple from green alkanet brighten the gloom of the undergrowth, while stinging nettle and white dead nettle line the border between path and hedgerow.

In the upper dene blossom season is in full flow: rowans, service trees and cherries illuminate the banks of the burn. A few patches of bluebells sprout at the base of a sycamore. The stream trickles gently in places but is dry in others. Patches of meadow have been left to grow when the grass has been cut; abstract collections of dandelion, groundsel, ribwort plantain and wild grasses. An old tree stump, with gnarled silver bark rests on the edge of a circular patch of meadow, like a seat waiting for a storyteller. It has become one of those enchanted places in the landscape where anything might happen. From that perch perhaps I could witness the meadow grow.

The burn is crowded with bullrush spears and marsh marigolds. The small pond is green with weed and bulrush. As we cross the bridge to the main pond, past its goat willow guardian, we walk through a drift of down. The water birds are all in hiding. A small flock of feral pigeons pecks around the shore. A wood pigeon forages in a patch of dandelion clocks. Sparrows flutter and chatter between bushes and reeds. There is an orchestra of birdsong. I recognise the blackbirds, the robins, the chiff chaff and tits, but the rest is lost in a sweet cacophony. We sit by the pond for a while, shaded by the weeping willows, listening, watching the sparrows dance. I wonder how many ideas have been planted at the edge of this pond, ideas that will stay hidden until their time is ripe.

When my world is small and I stay close to home, ideas come slowly. Without input, they fail to germinate. Without those many small interactions with the world, the spark doesn’t catch. Movement releases them. Not only these walks in nature, but the casual stroll across the park to work, the view out onto gull-crowded roofs, the bus ride past fields and hedgerows, the dawn walk along the shore. We aren’t at normal yet. Restrictions are lifting, but the cases in our town are rising again. I have had both vaccinations, but I am cautious. My world is still smaller, but it is slowly expanding.

We leave the dene through an arch of blossoming cherries. The trees are noisy with the hiss of starlings. The birds hop from branch to branch, some preening wet feathers of blue, green and purple. For a while their chatter fills the air, until we turn for home and their noise fades. We pass a lone blackbird, perched at the top of a fence. The starlings’ song speaks of careless exuberance, whereas the blackbird seems to be singing for his life. With spring comes movement, both sprightly and serious. Already, the sparks begin to catch. I can’t see it, but the magic is happening, my mind is sprouting ideas.

97 thoughts on “Growing

  1. Looking forward to reading these sprouting ideas Andrea! Interesting musings about where creative ideas spring forth from. Spring! The season of springing! We’ve just downsized and moved house, both activities have been enormously energizing. Best wishes to you.

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  2. May is such a magical month – the gateway into Summer. So let those ideas come with the greening of the woods …

    Beautiful atmospheric writing as always Andrea.

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  3. Beautiful post, Andrea. It is a wonderful landscape you walk through and by telling you u lift my spirits. I can see them all, a wonderful show it is.

    And so inspiring to us if we care to really look.

    Miriam

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  4. “I can’t see it, but the magic is happening again.” That is such a beautiful line, such a profound thought, one which applies to so many of us after this long winter of upheaval and despair. Beautiful writing, my friend. Beautiful writing!

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  5. I love how you weave nature and thoughts through your wandering. I hope your world expands even more, bringing lovely fresh ideas with it. “An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” —Henry David Thoreau
    Walking doesn’t just benefit the body—it stills the mind and calms the nerves.

    Annie Spratt via Unsplash

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  6. Your writing is so immersive, I always feel as if I can smell the scent of the wild flowers and hear the birdsong and the trickle of the water. I love the idea of flowers blooming like ideas, while our attention is elsewhere.

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  7. Thank you for your magical words, and the images that are stirring treasured long lost memories.
    You are among the few who is endowed with the ability to see and sense beyond the obvious and express poetically what others can only perceive by sight.

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  8. I’d love to witness the gentle unfurling of a flower but I suspect the human mind is too busy to perceive such a secret, sacred event. Lovely words and images, as always, Andrea.

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  9. We are so grateful for the extravagant beauty of spring. So much to see, smell, hear, feel, even taste in gardens, parks, countryside – and it’s all free! Inspiration is not hard to find at such a time. Glad to hear that yours is rising, Andrea.

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  10. You have beautifully sewn the words together. Made me feel like I was sitting by the edge of the pond, seeing the flowers bloom this spring, while the bees dancing rhythmically over these flowers.

    Hope you and your loved one are keeping safe.

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  11. I’m sorry to read that cases are rising again in your area but glad your mind is beginning to sprout ideas. Lovely photos! I think most flowers/plants do most of their growing at night so we can’t see them grow.

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  12. You are so knowledgeable about the natural life around you, Andrea; I imagine if you were to ever visit here, I’d be like a pesky child, dragging you around asking “What’s that? What’s that?” every two seconds. I know some, but reading your posts tells me how much there is that I don’t know.
    Yes, a storytelling stump. Go sit!

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  13. Beautiful, Andrea. I love the closeup of the dandelions while they are white and ready to be blown away. If anyone could sit and watch the birth of a flower or weed it would be you.

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  14. The analogy of flowers and ideas is perfect. I love the way you carried it out, too. And the photos are just gorgeous because of the wealth of details and natural chaos (that will only make sense to me, I fear). That blackbird is a wonderful way to close the post. So lovely.

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  15. Hello, Andrea; I didn’t miss your last post. You captured that brief moment of connection with the natural World while everyone is still dribbling on their pillows so perfectly.
    With this post, also, you’ve captured the movement of time so wonderfully well.
    You demonstrate perfectly the advantages of slowing things down and not letting life become a blur.
    Everything in nature has its time and place, a process that has evolved over millennia. There has to be some level of control over nature, on our immediate surroundings; in my opinion, the less tampering the better. My Bees think so as well, they produce better tasting honey.
    Anyway, Andrea, that’s me done; I’m off outside to soak up some of this Super Moon energy.
    Say hello to Winston, for me, please, take care, and I’ll catch you soon.

    Mick.

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  16. I so enjoy being taken along on your nature excursions!

    This resonates: “I wonder how many ideas have been planted at the edge of this pond, ideas that will stay hidden until their time is ripe.” The theme of hidden ideas, coupled with movement releasing those ideas. I find I’m most creative when moving through nature; ideas flow. The trick is remembering those ideas when I return home!

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  17. In a happy burst of synchronicity, I’ve read your words on our first truly summery morning this year. Doors open to the sunshine, birdsong streaming in. Beautiful piece as always, Andrea. May those ideas flourish!

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  18. In one of her books, Martha Beck talks about the need for movement when we feel stuck creatively. It sounds like you prove her ideas to be true:). This post reminds me of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden in its tone and mood. Lovely writing, Andrea:).

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  19. Hooray to the magic of new ideas starting to develop within you again as you can head slightly further afield. Your writing is poetic and insightful and captures the wonder of the natural world. I can relate to the analogy running through your post and there is indeed a tickle as ideas take root and start to germinate … here’s to creativity flourishing with newer freedoms … fingers crossed they will be able to last. Have a lovely weekend!

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  20. This is such gorgeous and poetic prose, Andrea. I was walking right along with you, noting the new growth, hearing the birdsong. Simply lovely.
    Oh, and the word “dene” kept bugging me (it is one of our First Nations peoples) so I had to look it up. It’s not the first time I read it here on your blog and I always figured it meant something like a valley but today, I went to get confirmation 🙂 English is so filled with wonderful words.

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  21. I’ve been absent again but never mind!! Wonderful and poetic post as usual and so similar to where I live on Vancouver Island with our wild flowers, grasses and birds out back on the hillside.I can always see and hear your posts. Oh no! more cases cropping up. I’ve had my first vaccine but still waiting on the second.. Yes our world too is slowly opening up. Summer blessings Andrea!

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  22. How I love the way you think!! Let me count the ways. Petal by petal. I’m chagrined to admit I never thought about watching a flower at its birth, when the petal opens her arms to the sun, rooting in the warm moist slow beneath her. I will never look at a newborn flower the same way again… In fact, I hope to flower with ideas now also, although sometimes they seem so fast in coming and I can’t catch up. Before I know it, the ideas, like petals, fall to the ground. ;-0 xo

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  23. Your enchanting walks are a ray of spring sunshine…we recently had a string of summer-like days which have been replaced with dark cloud, rain and plummeting temperatures…the sun briefly came out yesterday afternoon resulting in Terry coming home with a Ziploc bag full of juicy salmonberries from a forest walk…peaceful seasons sharing gifts; you’ve captured it well, Andrea!

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