Small Details

I’ve been reflecting on the nature of memory lately. The basic themes may set the tone but the small details are what bring thoughts alive. That holds true with the outside world, too.

Take Dorset, for example. I barely knew the county before last month, but it is easy to describe in broad brushstrokes: an erratic quilt of heath, farmland and trees, heaped up high into grassy hills, threaded with tiny lanes and dotted with quaint villages. To the south it is underscored by vivid white: mighty chalk cliffs guarding the channel, crumbling cradle of a thousand dinosaur bones.

Old Harry Rocks May 18

The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site, of course. Even away from it, the countryside is refreshingly free from motorway noise.

Dorset countryside2

Zoom in a little, and exploring is flavoured by small details. Sundews are not unique to the south-west, but are intriguing little things. They are carnivorous plants that eat insects.

Sundew Dorset 17 May 2018.jpg

Another heathland predator is very seldom glimpsed. This is the shed skin of a smooth snake Coronella austriaca, Britain’s rarest reptile.

Smooth snake skin 17 May 2018

I have only ever seen one, and that was in western Surrey last year.

Smooth snake 09 May 17

Back in Dorset, the flowers are shining.

Centuary 17 May 2018

…or not. The twayblade is one of the green orchids and easily overlooked.

Twayblade orchid 17 May 2018

Quiet and reclusive perhaps, but it is just as important ecologically as any of its brighter peers.

Keep looking. Keep remembering.

8 thoughts on “Small Details

    1. Thanks Robin. The white cliffs in the photo are Old Harry (nothing to do with the guy who is getting married today…) They’re chalk, like the famous White Cliffs of Dover over in Kent, but their associated folklore is more about pirates than WWII songs.

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    1. Yes, but it tends to be found only in harsh habitats, where it has an advantage over conventional, non-carnivorous plants. It can be seen on heathland, bogs, mountains etc. It is quite small and easily overlooked, though.

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