A Red Campion: A Star Poised in Space2 minute read

Red Campion

A red campion features in this piece of nature writing, which is based on a walk along part of the Ullswater Way in the Lake District.

This writing can be read as a stand-alone piece; however, it is a sequel to The Dunnock: Drab or Dreamy? So you may wish to read that first.

A Red Campion: A Star Poised in Space

Films of light frost that developed during the night start to liquefy, drenching the low-lying vegetation with drops of dew as temperatures rise in association with the appearance of the morning sun.

Amongst this vegetation there are two species, in particular, that catch my eye. The first is a red campion, the deeply-cleft, rose-pink petals of its one and only, thumbnail-sized flower held knee-high on the terminal tip of a stem. The green stem and slightly hairy leaves, which radiate from the stem at various intervals along its length, blend in with the similarly coloured surroundings so that the little blossom, the only flower in the immediate area, appears suspended in thin air, a star poised in space.

The second species to take command of my attention is the russet-coloured bracken present in abundance in these parts. The ferns’ fronds bear countless pinnules, toothed leaflets, each reminiscent of a comb, feather, or moth antenna.

My eardrums begin to vibrate to the faint vocalizations of distant geese. The honks grow gradually louder and louder until I can see the fowl from whence the calls come. Like a cannonade, hundreds of them course through the sky, forelimbs outstretched, planing, gliding, not a single wing beating, then, suddenly, the frontmost birds tilt, transforming gentle glide into rapid plummet, a behaviour that travels through the flock like a chain reaction. Finally, the greylag geese level off in preparation for a soft landing in the middle of Lake Ullswater.

Carrying on along the Ullswater Way, wildlife crops up from every corner. A grey heron, an anachronistic-looking thing with the patina of a creature belonging to the age of the dinosaurs, flies unhurriedly across a plot of pasture towards the waterbody that fills the valley. Each stroke of its wings is slow, powerful and purposeful, perfectly opposing the force of gravity that ceaselessly attempts to pull it down.

The crown of a chestnut tree consists of countless golden fingers, and perched within this precious headdress is a wood pigeon, its subtly-rosed breast broadcasting princeliness to those who look towards him from down below.

Just a little further along, a coal tit rummages around in a commingled mass of crammed-with-crimson hawthorn trees in an effort to conjure up something to eat. The bird’s black and white head markings, I find, never fail to summon up mental images of those black and white, nocturnal mustelids commonly known as badgers.

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