online: 7 april 2003

5 april 2003 non-humans and ourselves

17:07 Soon after sending out daffodil 17 here I am in a piece of wild woodland - with undergrowth uncleared and undamaged by gardening. I decided to sit on a fallen but still growing tree trunk to eat a picnic - and then I lay on the trunk while I digested it. And now I'm sitting here to write this.

What a lot happened as I ate and rested!

First a robin came to sing occasional trills as it perched about four metres from me. After each trill it looked to its left - as if it expected a reply from that direction. Then another sang to the robin's right and it looked in that direction while repeating its song. That provoked a reply and then it flew towards the second robin. Since then I've heard it sing from all directions - so I could be at the centre of its territory.

But now my back is beginning to ache so I decide to walk on. Perhaps I will write later of the other things that happened here - one of the wildest parts of the heath.

21:54 At home. I'm deciphering and expanding the notes I wrote on paper as I sat and lay on the tree trunk.

A large bumble bee came exploring the ground around me - occasionally it disappeared beneath a fallen leaf or a tree root. It was about 2 centimetres long and its vibrating wings made a loud buzz like a miniature helicopter... I thought that the tree I sat on was a willow. As I lay back on it I saw that it has seven or eight trunks - several of which have partly fallen and rest their weight on the ground.

Several groups of people went by - some ignored me and some stared and even pointed at the place where I lay (perhaps concealed by branches). Three women who passed left a trail of perfume about fifty metres behind them.

A small bird with a long tail, and two larger birds, came near and perhaps didn't see me. I felt I was beginning to witness the kind of bird life that doesn't happen when people are visible and mobile. One of the larger birds (was it a jay?) made a cluster of seven warbling notes.

I eventually walked to Kenwood where I saw a picnic of about twenty people - mostly Islamic women wearing head scarves with a few men and children. It was the first time I felt that Islamic people are now truly at home in this country. I hope they felt the same.

In the cafe I met a friend who wears a Sikh turban. He was with a woman from Argentina and we talked of the Alexander Technique, of the Welsh colony in Patagonia and of the upper class English people who still inhabit Argentina.

On my way back I saw two people gazing at something. It was a small bird that was creeping up tree trunks. A tree creeper or perhaps a nut hatch?

As I passed pond 2 I saw and heard several geese arriving, amidst much honking, to join about six geese who stood on the floating island. And as I passed pond 1 I saw the first daisies that I've seen this year.

On return I compared a leaf of the tree I'd sat on with the photographs in a book on tree identification*. I think it is a White Willow - a native of continental Europe and Britain and of northern Asia and northern Africa. It grows wild on riversides. The one I sat under was on swampy ground, not far from a stream. There is no mention of having several trunks or that they may half fall while still growing.

News of our non-human companions on earth - a change from news of war.

*A book of tree photographs, designed so that you can identify trees visually without knowing the logic, or the terminology, of botanical classification:

Roger Phillips, assisted by Sheila Grant, edited by Tony Wellstead, line drawings by John White, Trees in Britain, Europe and North America,Pan Macmillan, London 1978.
There is a companion volume Wild flowers of Britain,1977, also by Roger Phillips.

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© 2003 john chris jones

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