I paid more attention to the vegetation along the trail this morning. I saw at least twenty plants I hadn’t listed yesterday, although there are a couple I can’t really identify. Some I just ignored yesterday: forget-me-not, dandelion, sorrel, plantain, buttercup, because they are so common and ubiquitous. Today I took note of rhodora, pineapple weed, a stunted little plant of yellow sweet clover, hop clover (I think), groundsel (probably), butter and eggs (toadflax), wild mustard, thistle, St Johnswort, bracken, Deptford pink, Queen Anne’s lace about to open, a little creeping plant with white starlike flowers which I think is a kind of chickweed (not mouse ear chickweed), fleabane, evening primrose, something which might be crown vetch although it doesn’t look quite like the plant in my book, and several more of those dandelion-like species. Fruiting spires are starting to form on the staghorn sumac. There’s also a shrub with bright pink flowers, I even have some growing in my garden, wild-seeded, but I have no idea what it is. And, for the record, the birds were in more evidence: the usual pigeons, starlings, a couple of crows, but also sparrows, robins and I caught a fleeting glimpse of something which was probably a “confusing warbler”.
It makes me wonder, with all this amazing diversity, why so many of us are intent upon maintaining lawns of only one or two types of grass and wage war upon all other species which dare to sprout amongst the blades.
This morning, to beat the heat, I went out early for my walk. The overzealous maintenance crew has not been along the harbour trail recently, so the paved walkway is fringed with meadow flowers. I identified common vetch, oxeye daisy, red and white clover, common knapweed, birdsfoot trefoil, yarrow, two kinds of wild roses, blackberries in bloom, cinquefoil, common nightshade, coltsfoot leaves, ferns, various grasses, cattails, a tricolour field of lupins, musk mallow, various dandelion-like flowers which could include yellow goat’s-beard, wild lettuce and hawkweed, a small plant with clusters of tiny yellow flowers which I can’t identify. All around me hidden in the trees and shrubs was the rustle and twitter of birds although I only caught sight of one song sparrow and one goldfinch.
The thought came to me that this is an extraordinary burgeoning of life, somehow succeeding despite humanity’s best efforts to mow it down. Would the world become a different and better place if everyone spent time simply observing nature? Would we learn humility? I wish we could make every dictator or wannabe dictator, corporate bosses who only see money, women who more subtly exercise power for personal gain, all those whose greatest pleasure seems to be to control others and glorify or enrich themselves, I wish we could make them all spend time in nature, surviving only by their own wits.
And every child deserves to bathe in the riches of the earth. Generations have been denied this, one of our most basic needs. No wonder the human race is essentially insane and we struggle to regain our lost connections to the world.