The Wayfinder

There is a bright red beacon beside our wilder footpaths. Its berries light up after midsummer, pointing the way home.


The wayfaring tree is more like a shrub, a short, gangly thing unduly loaded with either flowers or fruit, depending on the season. It does indeed have a habit of growing beside paths, but built a relationship with people long before waymarking posts and National Trail guides. Its wood made the arrows carried by Otzi the Iceman, and when he died in the Alps thousands of years ago, they rested alongside him.

Most of nature is really a map. Stinging nettles point to corners that have known the human footprint, because they’re ‘enriched’ with nutrients or otherwise disturbed. Waxcap fungi say the opposite; some of their species take 80 years to colonise a disrupted field.

Fleabane, on the other hand, points to spots that are damp. It reputedly deters insects with a smell that is described as ‘carbolic soap’.

Fleabane 28 Jul 20

Rain causes damp, of course, and it is noted by the scarlet pimpernel, the shepherd’s weather-glass. This tiny flower only opens in the sunshine.

Scarlet pimpernel 28 Jul 20

But maps are for travelling, which is what agrimony does. A tall, thin, very sticky flower of meadows, its seeds hitch rides – and one must have found my dog. Last year. It quietly planted itself, and now I have an agrimony of my own in the front drive.

Agrimony 27 Jul 20

Or it could have been a fox I suppose, although that is less likely considering the distance to the nearest traditional meadow.

Vixen 28 Jul 20

I expect that she has carried a few grass seeds, all the same.

13 thoughts on “The Wayfinder

  1. Adele, thanks for the ramble, too.
    And what a great looking fox.
    Question for you:
    I have just completed a story book about foxes crossing the border between Mexico and the USA and would like to send you the eBook via Amazon as a gift to such a lover of foxes.
    The book is in English ‘Somewhere near Casa Grande’ which you would prefer. I believe. It is also in Spanish as some foxes are Mexican… and it will be soon available in Welsh.
    If you can give me your email I can send right away and it will be the first book in the UK or the USA.
    Anthony Parr (Tony) please send to:

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m still learning them all! One result of England’s wildly varied geology is that our flowers also vary a good bit between the regions, and every time I travel it seems like there’s something new to learn.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I have no trouble at all imagining agrimony seeds clinging to some settler (or his cows), even throughout all the voyage across the Atlantic!

      We have acquired a few North American plants in return, including pineappleweed and floating pennywort.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hello Adele,

    for the first time in many years we have vast quantities of blueberries here in Northern Germany. Maybe this is a good sign. Or a bad one, because of the drought here in Europe.



    *Rainer Böttchers *29336 Nienhagen 0172 7407210 05144 6672873

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Rainer, I’ve just read your lovely review of my book – so glad you enjoyed it!

      That is an interesting observation about the blueberries. We have an abundance of blackberries here in England this year, and it looks like it may be a good season for sloes and hazelnuts. It was the same last year and our endangered dormice did very well. Of course, draught is less positive. I hope that the weather normalises soon for all our sakes.

      Liked by 1 person

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