The Name of Flowers

Yesterday we went in search of the sea. Lucy wanted real waves and we drove into Wales. Just a few miles over the border we realised that travel restrictions in Wales are still quite strict and so we turned around and headed home. We spent the day exploring the Wirral; views of the Welsh mountains, river estuary, unspoilt saltmarsh, sand and waves. We watched rain clouds roll in off the sea following the path of the river. We spent an hour watching the tide come in very slowly, then in a few short minutes we watched waters pour onto the beach swallowing up the sand banks like a flood.

There is a moment when the landscape you are in meets the fall of the day and a certain shift in the light meets the longing of your heart. In that moment beauty comes as a gift. You can’t plan for these times. Nature is her own master. All you can do is get out as much as possible and be in the places where gifted moments might (or might not) come.  

Of late I’ve been overwhelmed with decisions. I don’t mean big, well-defined decisions with concrete and time specific outcomes. I mean the simple human decisions like; how do I make a life? There’s no shortage of information and it’s being fired at me all day long. If more information was what I needed I’d already have the answers. Computer turned off and phone in airplane mode I make the radical decision to listen to my own heart and trust the things she has to say. I don’t need another guru. Turns out I need less information not more.

This is why I keep on walking the paths of my own little patch. When I get to the end of my road the shrubs that the builders planted, thin out and the wild things begin. There’s a margin of trees between the hedge and the road and blackbirds have been nesting there. This morning there was a fledgling on the path. Wing feathers perfectly formed but around the heads and the breast still fluffy like something from the nest. She had no fear of me and I stood close enough to touch her, close enough for her to look me in the eye.  I wasn’t expected and it came as a gift. There’s a fox who hunt these meadows and a hare that fast-runs the edges of the fields. Some evening a barn owl will quietly quarter the long grass looking for prey. Some days you get to see these things but other days you don’t. Some days you’re left to keep company with the wind in the grass and the flowers that grow between. 

Last night I walked the path at the end of the day. I paused in the shelter of the oak tree to watch the birds and again by the ditch, swallows overhead. There was no owl hunting over the meadow but spikes of flowers rose magnificent from the bank and tiny blooms in yellow and white huddled at my feet. No one teaches you what to do when such beauty comes. There are no rules, no set words, no liturgical actions just the raising up of the heart in response to the moment that will be gone before a word is said. 

On an evening like this the names are a prayer; rosebay willow herb, viper’s bugloss, thistle, stitchwort, hog weed and rose. 

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