With the springtime wild world and a backdrop of Easter bells ringing. Not real frost, of course, although the Surrey Hills had a few flakes of snow a fortnight back – hard to remember in today’s sun.
It’s blackthorn, spring’s showy pioneer.
The ground, too, is waking, and dewdrops brighten the flowers.
Bluebells are now at their peak, carpeting our oldest woods in shimmering sapphire.
I must have seen a thousand cowslips on Saturday’s walk.
Meanwhile, the mysterious toothwort sprouts flowers without leaves. Unlike almost all other flowers, it doesn’t photosynthesize, instead getting its nutrition from its host. That is usually hazel or alder.
Spring is beautiful, but there is an intrigue and depth to that beauty, and a lesson in how different strands of life support each other. I am grateful that there is always so much more to see and learn.
Huge areas of England are hollow. Hard to believe, looking across mountains capped with snow and heather, lined with dry walls and wandered by idling sheep. But there is so much more beneath.
Britain is, for its size, the most geologically diverse area in the world. We have collapsed volcanoes, cliffs that crumble amongst dinosaur bones, and chalky hills that support an incredible diversity of flowers. Beneath it all, a new and exotic landscape awaits.
The Pennines are England’s backbone, running from Derbyshire up to the Tyne Gap. But like real bones, they are not solid. Water has scarred them, carved them, painted them with ghosts of lost rivers on the ceilings of caves.
Derbyshire has a sparkle about the edges. It is almost the only place in the world where Blue John – a type of fluorite – occurs. Some is still mined and turned into jewellery, but other specimens are left in the rock for visitors to ponder.
It is old, very old. It was here when the abbeys of Yorkshire were full of human life.
It will remain here as water whittles the hills afresh.
A quiet witness, like the snow that is transient in the Dales.