Valentine’s Day has long passed.  Work is insane at the moment, it’s our busiest time of year and it just sort of ..takes over.  I have lots of posts and links lined up from the past couple of weeks in my head but I fear most of them won’t make it to virtual paper, this evening at least.  I had intended posting about that peculiarly human habit of people scratching their initials into, well into everything, really, but in this case trees for Valentine’s Day.     The idea was sparked when my eldest and I went back to Arden Wood and were chatting about a particularly smooth barked beech tree – it’s a really spectacular tree –  and about how someone had decided to immortalise their probably long dead relationship with crudely carved initials now writ large as the tree has aged.    I think a fair bit, off and on, about graffiti – I’ll post some old stuff I’ve written previously when I remember where I left it and dig it up from layers of virtual internet dust – but scratching initials into trees causes a weird reaction in me.  There is at once a part of me that shrieks at this terrible thing (infection, damage, vandalism), and another part of me that’s mildly affronted if they couldn’t make it at least look attractive, which is about 98% of the time. That part does kind of find itself somewhat better disposed towards good carvings, not done too deeply.  I remember thinking a picture some kid had drawn, signed with their initials + Dad,  was impossibly cute.  It reminded me a little of the a Viking kid called Onfim’s drawings in the birchbark documents of Novgorod a collection of every day documents on birch bark including personal messages, IOUs, love letters, shopping lists and a collection of drawings by a young Russian boy named Onfim from about the late 12th century.  (They are ridiculously sweet, please do check out the website.)

There has been such a constant stream of stories involving carving initials with your childhood sweetheart, or on a whim on love at first sight encounters, or as the start of an adventure with the gang, or on swearing blood sibling hood with friends in literature that it’s kind of hard not to see it as part of life, so while I don’t exactly like it, I can’t exactly hate it either.   That said, you want to convince me you love me? Come wander around a forest and patiently put up with me stopping every five minutes to look and enthuse over stuff.

Planting trees for people in Ireland is something mostly done in memory of someone who has passed, maybe it would be nice to have a forest of trees planted for loved ones to enjoy with each other instead of locking locks onto bridges in cities?  Plant a tree instead of carving initals in one. Sounds like a plan.

On other grand gestures involving trees and love,  there is the story about Nellie’s Tree in Yorkshire, nominated as possible European Tree of the Year this year (https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/tree-romantic-story-europe-contest-competition-love-couple-woodland-trust-a8762011.html)  It isn’t a single tree exactly, it’s three beeches kind of grafted together to create an N by a man named Vic Stead in honour of the woman he was courting and then went on to marry nearly 100 years ago.

But as I say, Valentine’s day is long gone and I forget what other things I was going to talk about.  Spring is here, daft days for the benefit of greeting card companies pale into insignificance beside the rush through me on whatever day my sluggish, hibernating spirit decides to  acknowledge as the start of Spring.  As I get older I find the effect stronger and I squee along my paths to work or the walks I can get in watching out for new season.  Spring give me proto roses


and lights up dead leaves in interesting ways


And I really like the bouquets of new flowers!


The lesser Celandines and Speedwell have been going strong for weeks now, I got my first violet picture last weekend and I think the third image in the group is Deadnettle, but I couldn’t swear to it, I noticed it this morning.

I should probably pay some attention this year to the Spring Flowering Plants Project mentioned by @BioDataCentre (Bio Diversity Ireland)  in conjunction with  http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/projects/vascular-plants/ )


Walks reveal young wild garlic, elder already in impressive leaf, gorgeous skies behind hazel catkins, the merest hint of fluffy willow catkin, blossom buds on the turn and wild pear blossom.

moving in

Somebody appears to be doing some Spring cleaning.

I’m going to leave this post with an odd love,  I’ve had it since I was very small and it’s the earliest idea of Spring I can remember – frogspawn


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