Published: 25 April 2017
I was greatly disappointed to learn that the bluebells springing up around my garden are not the fragrant sweet smelling English variety but rather they are examples of the interloper Spanish bluebell. "Old woman's fart" as it is called in Ethiopia. Well no, that would mean the Ethiopians were speaking English, which they aren't, weren't. Although many of them could, of course, what Ethiopians actually say is "yaro get fess", which means, I am told, "old womans fart", but you know that because I mentioned it earlier, That is of course those Ethiopians that speak in Amharic. There are more than 80 languages in Ethiopia and they are all different. Obviously! If they all said things the same way there wouldn't be 80 languages, or more, depending on how many languages there are... No matter, I'm not sure why I introduced the Amharic thing when the long and short of it is, that this morning,I decided to brave the winter weather, high winds, heavy rain and snow, as forecast all weekend and walk the local bluebell woods that we knew as children.
I haven't found much in the way of bluebells there for several years but it seems there has been a substantial recovery of the species (this is Bluebell Woods I'm talking about, not Ethiopia, I've never seen bluebells in Ethiopia, but my wife, the Ethiopian, the source of my linguistic erudition has, the spanish variety that is). There are now quite impressive stands in several areas around the woods. Striking though they look in these so much less profusional ( profusional? Is that word? I think probably not, the spell checker doesn't like it, not that that is such a good guide, the spell checker doesn't like antidisestablishmentarianism either, and that's a word. I could tell you...but no, let me go on, I know I know I do ) times ("these less profusional times" that is, just in case you're loosing the thread, impressive though they may look in a contemporary setting, the crop still has nothing like the density and scale of those great swathes of blue carpet that I remember from my childhood. I doubt that the woods could could sustain the ravages of a single family with a large car boot now, whereas when we (we, my siblings and I, not we, you and me, I mean, no offence but you weren't there. Well I don't think you were there. Not that I really know, its just a supposition on my part, I suppose you might have been there but I wouldn't know would I? I mean I don't actually know who you are. And that is why, of course, when I say "we" I mean someone other than.... well other than you. Unless you are my sister. Or my brother! but not anyone else you see. In those days, when we borrowed granddad's Hillman Minx (we in this case meaning, we the family, although actually probably more correctly, we, my Dad) and drove to bluebell woods, there were cars parked, laden to the gunnels with bluebells, Morris minors with open boots, back seats and roof racks piled high with armful after armful of bluebells. The 50s and 60s aren't famous I think for environmental awareness, but we (we being my Mum and Dad this time) were appalled at the way everyone other than us, pulled the bluebells out, stalk and all, while we (Mary and me, this time) carefully broke off each bluebell collected. We (this is getting tedious, use your own judgement on what we means from here on in) , we knew then that the scale of bluebell pulling would, in a very few years, destroy the miracle that the new affluence of car ownership enabled so many to witness in a single bank holiday weekend. And of course, it did.
Having rediscovered the joy of the native sweet smelling, rather demure bluebell, demure as a singleton, quite brash really when mob handed, I shall now have to follow Drake in waging war upon the Spaniard. I shall be planting out the native bulbs in the garden this autumn and wreaking havoc among the old woman's farts.
(You may notice from the pictures that I spent much of the morning in blazing sunshine. The nearest thing to foul weather was the occasional passing cloud filtering the sunlight. I might need to write to Tomasz Schafernaker about that. I think he needs to get out more. All these pictures of driving rain, hail and snow today can only be ... fake news)