A Norfolk Season – journal extracts from a North Norfolk year – May ’22’

A Bure valley landscape

Moisture glistens atop their petals to ascend in evaporating trails, the shimmering sprays of white cruciforms and subtle pink paddles run through the lush greens of springs emergent leafyness

Spring meadows are bursting in vigour and purpose, everywhere one cares to look something is shooting, blossoming or flowering. Birdsong, resonant and joyous fills the air and plays upon the ear whilst a beaming sun befits the perfect signature to this most glorious of spring mornings.

Walking towards the copse one cannot fail to see its beginnings since it appears to have been sided with an irregular edge yielded by a huge hand. From here the copses roots have spread in fulfilment westwards. After admiring the generality of the scene I focus upon my destination and become aware of something rather peculiar. There are no habitable dwellings here and invariably one never sees a soul, and yet I am sure woodsmoke can be seen.

The plumes ascend through bough and branch adorned with the bright leaves of a new season. Before reaching the tree tops it becomes unseen which makes the vision all the more intriguing.

As I get closer the reveal is not plumes of wood smoke but the blossoms of crabapple and dogwood; moisture glistens atop their petals to ascend in evaporating trails and the wet shimmering sprays of white cruciforms and subtle pink paddles run through the lush greens of springs emergent leafyness to inspire this natural deception. What a sight I have never seen anything quite like it.

The beautiful dog rose

Leaving the ‘vision’ behind my path continues under the canopy, it is verdant with ferns, ivy and banks of ransom that lead the eye and feet towards the other side. Above the deepening sky is in blue, cotton wool clouds are every now and again interspersed with the wings of the departing canopy rooks.

The deepening sky

After the cool cover of the copse I head out and into the warmth of the morning sun. The river is in front of me and nestles idyllically at the end of pastural fields that are brimming with cowslips & meadow buttercups their pretty heads stoop in the pleasant breeze & field scabious cut the grasses with their angular and pointed leaves; even before the flower the scabious is a most attractive plant and it’s early expression suggests beauty in waiting. The walk is so rich in springs statement it is near impossible to walk far without a stop to take in something or other that is occurring or has since I was last here.

This river has been my companion year on year season upon season. It remains true but also changeable and with grace thankfully never taciturn, for what one may see at any one visit is a true reflection of seasonal travel and its distance – there is never a change for changes sake or some strange reasoning – The type of which befalls our all to human foibles.

The river

For instance a bend in the river is of course a constant but seasonality provides for change. Only a month ago the bank side vegetation here was skeletal with only the hint of the scene I am looking over now.

This river has been my companion year on year season upon season. It remains as said constant, and like me it is changeable but never taciturn, for what you see at any one visit is a true reflection of seasonal adjustment and its distance – there is no change for changes sake or some strange reasoning. For instance a bend in the river is of course a constant but seasonality provides for change. Only a month ago the bank side vegetation was skeletal with only the hint of the scene I am looking over now. (rewrite).

Chalk stream clarity

Nature has set in the mould of springs miracle – reed, meadowsweet, agrimony, purple loosestrife, iris, nettles, mares tail, liverwort, cow parsley, field campion, oxide daisies, ragged robin, hawthorn, alder, beech, willow and the mighty oak all embrace the promise wrapped in spring tidings.

Borage
Ragged robin

Underneath the water too, streamer and crowfoot that will become ornery to the ways of anglers are beginning to show in the crystal clear water. Above the rivers gentle, rippled way there is water buttercup, fools watercress, and the flotillas of water crowfoot none of which are of flower but the process towards culmination is very much in evidence.

A sup of tea and a piece of good old English tea slice always provides satisfaction and provokes more than a hint of nostalgia. My mother always packed a flask and made sure the bright orange with metal fittings lunch box was laden with sandwiches, an apple, a small chocolate swiss roll and my favourite the slice of tea cake. As I sit by the river enjoying the cakes fruitfulness and the refreshing bergamot kiss of Earl Grey fond memories surface and drift gently along with the river. A pair of reed and sedge warblers flit in and around the reed stems in front of me sounding out their exuberance, their proclivities leaving me without a doubt it will not be long now before they have broods to tend to.

As recently as a couple of years ago mink were in evidence along these upper reaches and were proving a veritable nuisance to all wildlife that had a beating heart. Since then however the mink containment projects have proved invaluable and to my great surprise and joy water vole have returned and are now seen regularly.

My dear friend is custodian of the beats from here up stream for a mile or so and has two such traps alongside the glides, there has not been one mink retained for over a year, the only thing he found inside one was a water rail, which of course was released unscathed by the ordeal.

Here is where my journey and journal entry will end as the lane that will take me cottage bound is just a little way away. Just as I open the canvas bag to place all back inside a marsh harrier rides a thermal and swoops into view, I watch as he effortlessly quarters the meadow seeking a mousey morsel or young rabbit of which there are plenty. I continue viewing his feathering progress until all of a sudden he disappears from view up over the hedgerow and he’s gone. I open the field gate to the rest of the day and walk the lane home.

Writing & Images Pallenpool – North Norfolk May 2022