Much to see in the neighbourhood in 2020. Some favourite photos tell a story of the year.
January – in a golden light, all looks calm.
February – We heard the news but still made plans to see friends, and bought tickets for events in March.
The Giant’s waking. The sea’s a little rougher.
New shoots and blossoms.
My last haircut, and a tale of two tickets: never attended, never redeemed.
March. Bad news flew in.
Still there were spring posies.
A last walk on the beach.
March 9 2020 – Seatown: All the rocks exposed. Last handshake – with a German fossiler. Out of habit? Even took off my glove to be polite. Thought at once: should not have done that; will not be doing that again.
Seven days later, lockdown begins.
Corona empties the shelves – except for Corona. We show our appreciation every Thursday at 8pm, from windows and front door steps, clapping for the front line, hospital staff, carers, (food) shop workers, bus drivers, posties, the people who empty our bins – everyone who carries on while we ‘save lives’ by staying home.
At first the garden, a microcosm of wild and edible, felt like the safest place but …
In April we ventured out at last into the view beyond the garden by walking up and over the the giant’s head (aka Allington Hill). Up there were enough paths and passing places. Reassuringly, most people were glad to give and be given room.
Off we went, first thing every morning. It soon became the best and unmissable part of the day.
We stopped talking, and listened to birdsong, took in the view and saw how everything changed day by day.
The sea, if we saw it, was a distant glint. The sky soared over clouds of green.
May reminded us that nature, given the chance, will go full tilt. Imagine the birdsong. Humans often seem to want to leave their mark.
In June we opened our hearts to the horizon.
Heading for Colmer’s Hill: a path through the small maize, passing poppies and through a sunken lane.
Foxgloves and elderflower were at their peak, though after mid-June the rain spoiled the elderflower for gathering. Is this a shrew? Small bodies appeared in the middle of the path so often at this time of year – but we didn’t know what killed them.
July – how the view darkened and bleached as everything grew.
The maize that came up to mid-calf in June was taller than me one month later.
July fruits – and potatoes grown in a bucket.
Glad to go out fossiling again. Keeping a safe distance from other people got easier once we were beyond the crowds.
A summer visitor?
Full of life; we’re past the peak, but the birds are still singing.
August – a month of heat and marrows.
A rare visit to nearby West Bay in late August – not crowded early in the morning.
Another marrow (aka: ‘everlasting courgette’).
Yet the autumnal colours were already showing: elderberries, berries of Guelder rose, a tunnel of ivy and brambles.
West Bay looking West and East – late August. Early morning was the best time to avoid the heat and the safest time to avoid crowds.
September a month of contrasts.
After long dry weather, rain, but strong winds cracked the dehydrated ash.
Tiny seeds on the path – we traced them to the birch (not to scale). No wonder it is such a prolific coloniser.
Some fungi we knew and some not. An enormous fairy ring some twenty metres in diameter developed of these fleshy white caps. The drought that persisted into September did strange things to the parasol mushrooms that like to grow in open grassland.
October – Whatever else was going on, our routines were not much changed – the best part of the day was still the walk though paths that had been dry as bone all summer became slippery after rain and most birds no longer sang, though they might call. The Robin’s song persisted, sounding gentle on the air.
Flowers and fruiting bodies: fly agaric sounding a red alarm from its hiding place in the woods; blackberry sneaking a few blossoms where the sun warmed a hollow. In the garden, quince carried long ripening fruits and late scarlet flowers.
Shadows deepen, the field below already ploughed, rowan berries ripen from pale orange to almost red. Summer’s slipped away.
November How quickly the leaves fall now and every splash of brightness is a blessing.
Trees wave grey bones that tockle in the wind.
After Halloween, follow the jewelled path enriched with black to find the mysterious pumpkin tree.
December – holly berries ready for the Christmas feast – and the blackbirds will take them all.
Woodland paths are slip slip slippy now at Oak Tree Cross and churned with blubber mud.
When it’s gloomy we add light. Sunrise on Christmas Day. We’re grateful to have made it this far.
The sea is calm on Christmas Day. Young humans dash into the water!
And round we go – the end of the year, with a tick of the clock, becomes the new beginning. Old and New as the Dutch say. Happy New Year! Welcome to 2021.
New Year’s Day at sunrise; frost.