New Year

Three generations walk up the road to the pond and cattle grid that loop by East Farm this new year’s day. Reluctant little ones revive with the running in as we pass under a clear blue sky yielding fine views over rough grazing, escarpments and blocks of woodland. We point out to them the young spinney of deciduous and conifer that marks the burial place of animals destroyed in the wake of the foot and mouth crisis. Further speculation on the larger, linear stretch of birchwood and heather further north. No habitation there so not a shelter belt. Old mine workings? Was the soil poisoned by heavy metals, rendered unfit for grazing maybe? Subsequently, whether by accident or design, becoming home to those arboreal colonisers with their silvered barks. Fenced and fended I feel it must be home to an interesting selection of wildlife….More research required! Now we pass a sloping field with plastic wire fence posts randomly planted when our 8 year old supplies an answer for such apparent randomness. They’re marking molehills, or rather the traps set there. Yes, of course!

At the farm, as we make the return, a glint of subtle colour in the green shade of the uncultivated verge catches my eye. Creeping habit and labial flower will later, back home, bring in an agreed definition of Ground Ivy. A common wayside plant at one time diffused in tea to treat digestive disorders It’s two months out of its official flowering season but the winter so far has been mild and these days so much is out of sorts that we don’t worry further. (Here’s a library image taken in May…) Our half hour extended family perambulation was not only welcome holiday exercise but another way to experience and share observations and knowledge across the generations…thus starting the year as we hope to carry on!

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