Thursday, 27 January 2011

Bracken is such funny stuff

Have you ever tried to break a piece off while it's still green and full of life? It's nigh on impossible! It's not especially easy when its dead either.

Railways cuttings are often covered in bracken and brambles. My many train journeys this week have allowed me to 'examine' it at greater length.

It is now utterly dead. Brown, beaten down by snow, frost and ice. Withered through starvation. Drab and wet from the rain. Yet for all that it still had the look of something that possessed depth - though that's not exactly the word I'm searching for.

It brought to mind my childhood days when I consumed all the Enid Blyton adventure books I could lay my hands on. I have no idea how many times I read Secret Island, its sequels, the Circus series and the other fabulous, famous (five) series of children's (unlikely - but who cares) adventures.

The heroines and heroes were CONSTANTLY making snug warm beds for overnight stays outdoors using great billowing armfuls of dry bracken and heather.

Both of those plants have a springy-ness and scent that made me utterly envious. I could just imagine snuggling down into a mattress of bracken and heather, sleeping deeply and waking refreshed by their comfort and aroma. Gosh I'm turning into Bear Grylls!!

I love this bit of the seasonal cycle when everything is - on the surface at least - just dead. You see so much more. You see through woods to what lies beyond. There is a sense of space and distance that you don't get in summer.

Yet when I was looking more closely at the bare branches at the weekend life was plain to see! Buds were beginning to bulge and burst. Brown twigs had the faintest tinge of yellow-y green.

Beneath that dark brown bracken those tightly coiled lime green fronds are waiting to push their way through and uncurl in the warmth of the spring sun.

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