Olive Branch

I’d like to extend an olive branch to any all readers of my last blog in case it was at the very least, very badly timed – complaining as I was on funeral day about our late Queen and Empress Victoria before her perhaps not having done as much as they might have, perhaps, to protect wildlife and wild spaces. (Prompted by the seemingly anodyne Great British Countryside spaces, a C4 film running on a loop which was supposed to be calming but which just happened to mention the peat and heathland being burned to encourage the heather beloved of the Grouse specially bred to get shot! I’m sorry but this is terrible and was a shock to learn about…as is the number of intensively bred pheasants being loosed in the worst bird flu epidemic ever, only to get shot at too.)

I am sorry if the timing or indeed ideas offended anyone. I was a bit shocked at myself- and the day after came down with laryngitis – quite fittingly losing my voice. More reflection followed. Added to the updown swings of bipolar, abyss to high in matters of days…sometimes at the same time even. (Like being torn in half sometimes). I’m getting some great help understanding these swings (plus attendant anxieties) lately and I’m so grateful! Like many, recent politics (and particularly the .Gov #AttackonNature) have left me feeling very ill. Nature is the one balm.

But in fact a helpful piece of knowledge has come my way, this week – twice now, from two different sources. And that is that it’s not all any one person’s fault. As in any one individual isn’t to blame. For the challenged ecosystems and dodgy infrastructures and corrupt political webs that we are born into.

In fact when you come right down to it, no one person is even at all accountable for their own birth, and arrival on this beleaguered earth. It sounds obvious, but for a slightly manic depressive like me, it’s like music to my ears now that I am letting it really sink in.

Not that we’re not all accountable for our own actions which all add up of course, collectively – but there the truth is doing one thing small to help Nature helps us cope too. Gives us a lift. Like seeing a beautiful animal or flying creature. There weren’t any butterflies I could photograph in my garden lately. The only one I’ve snapped recently was on somebody else’s outside south facing wall, which was covered in flowering ivy.

Now native flowering ivy is something I’d love to find space for in my garden. But with the now very large viburnum also evergreen, it’s hard to see where it could go in my already over filled garden. Perhaps by the mini hedge in pots?

We could all always do more, just like both our Queens could even perhaps have done a bit more – but the Meadows initiative of our late Queen Elizabeth was a pointer, to where we need to get back to if wildlife and insect numbers are going to recover from their current decline.

The one thing I’m going to do this Autumn is try very hard to leave plenty of ‘leaf litter’ – as the latest research is indicating that the lack of leaf piles ( due to leaf blowing etc) is resulting in another huge habitat loss for the grubs and caterpillars, which over winter in them. I should know, I found a good colourful few last year, sheltering in the leaves round the doorstep. Most unexpected in the damp and cold!

It will be hard, fighting my natural or instilled human urge to ‘tidy up’. But listening into the online AGM of the local Butterfly Conservation branch yesterday did confirm my suspicions and worst fears – the general trend agreed with my many fewer sightings of Red Admirals and Peacocks and this decline in numbers were recorded by others, across the region. These were species which this year didn’t seem to cope with the severe drought we had this August. Numbers started out quite well but dropped off. This beauty wasn’t in my garden either, I snapped it off the telly! Best go now, as a storm is raging, lighting up the night sky…

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