Well, we’re running out of hours in 2018 so how shall we end the year in a blog? Why don’t I just take an image at random from my voluminous photographic archive and make up a story around it? This cannot offend anyone, and is probably of no interest to anyone either; but it might be fun to write.
There, that’s about as innocuous as they come, is it not? Indeed, it looks pretty boring.
It is not quite chosen at random. While searching, I had the idea of looking for an image of five years ago. What was I doing then? This is photographically the closest I can get to answering that question: walking on Snape Warren, apparently, what I am doing still, as Ernie Wise would write (there have been a lot of Morecombe and Wise TV programmes over Xmas and, although I only watched one, the influence is grammatically pervasive).
Actually, I well remember taking this photograph. We were still discovering our Suffolk surroundings, seasonally as well as geographically; and we were somewhat surprised to find gorse flowering in December. We now know that this is the new norm. In fact it is flowering just like this now, and this is the third flowering in 2019. It was still flowering in January-March early this year, then during its ‘old norm’ in May/June, and then again since November up until now. I don’t mean to imply that all bushes flower as profusely as that, but some gorse is in flower some of the time to justify that generalisation.
Here is a photograph dated 3 March, 2017. It is actually of the Rare Breed sheep we were looking after but it incidentally shows the flowering gorse in the background. I tried to do a painting based on the stances of these sheep but it was so bad that I first over-painted it with flood waters and then destroyed it without photographic record.
The next photograph, also taken on 3 March, 2017, shows the sheep eating the new green shoots on the ends of broom stems, so there is another indicator of, at the very least, seasonal speeding-up.
I’ll take a photo of gorse tomorrow and add it at the end to mark the start of 2019 – in flower.
The Real Live Sheep in our care as National Trust volunteers, now as then, give us another line of thought sparked by the ‘boring’ photo of flowering gorse. We have not yet taken the sheep out on to this part of the Warren, a Nature Reserve, this winter but we hope to do so early next year. Interesting and enjoyable as it is to have them here for their own sake, they are actually in residence here as part of the conservation management of the heathland (owned by RSPB for its flora and to encourage certain birds). Exmoor ponies (and therefore no sheep) were on this particular part of the Reserve last winter, 2017-18, and had a dramatic effect on some of the vegetation. In Spring, 2018, a machine-led blast of vegetation clearance very visibly changed the higher part of the warren. It will be interesting to see if any changes in the sheep’s behaviour compared to two years ago reflect the changed vegetational landscape and if their own more-subtle changes through grazing make any impact too.
Goodbye 1918 – an interesting year. I can’t say I welcome 2019 but neither I nor anybody else can stop it arriving in 2 hour’ time; so let this blog end, as it began, with gorse in flower: perchance, five years after the first, another not very interesting photograph.