Thursday, January 21, 2016

All that is made?

I found an old hazelnut on the floor of our sitting room today. It might have been something I brought home in my pocket or, more likely a survivor from the bag of Kentish cob nuts we bought in the autumn. From its shape it might be the variety known as Merveille de Bolwiller. Anyway, I drilled a hole through it and threaded it onto green ribbon.  It reminded me, as hazelnuts always do, of the wonderful passage from the writings of the 13th/14th century English anchoress Julian of Norwich in her Revelations of Divine Love:

In this vision he showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, and it 
was round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and 
thought "What may this be?" And it was generally answered thus: "It is all that is 
made." I marvelled how it might last, for it seemed it might suddenly have 
sunk into nothing because of its littleness. And I was answered in my 
understanding: "It lasts and ever shall, because God loves it. 

Also William Blake:

To see the world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.

My hazelnut, as you can see from the photo, is ovoid rather than round. Nevertheless, the principle applies.  I am struck by the way Julian's vision anticipates the Big Bang and how our current universe arose, so they say, from a tiny singularity.  I think she, William Blake and Plotinus would have got on very well.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

From mild to cold

In the last few days the exceptionally mild, wet period seems to have ended and we have had several overnight frosts.

The relatively high winter temperatures seem to have produced uneven effects.  As I wrote on 31st December, many camellias are flowering already and daffodils are out here and there in the village, though they do not look comfortable.  Hazel catkins are now just starting to expand and are slightly later than usual and there are no snowdrops out in our garden yet.  Perhaps these need a cold spell, like many seeds, to trigger them into action.

The unseasonal warmth has allowed some plants to flower on beyond their season.  The hogweed to the right (with a visiting anthomyiid fly) was photographed here on 7th January.  Normally a late summer flowering species, it grows in our lawn and has probably been cut back by mowing but has grown up again and continued its development long past its normal season.