As the banner image above illustrates, the starkness of leafless trees, low winter sun, and ice-blue skies can be beautiful. I love the subtle colours and patterns of winter, but it’s February now… it’s only two weeks to March, and it’s been a long, cold and hard winter following a difficult year. So I’m seeking colour. I find myself picking out my brighter items of clothing, when normally I’m quite happy with neutral colours, or my favourite subtle green tones. As part of my meditation practice, I’ve been doing some mindful colouring-in. I tried ‘mindful jigsaw-ing’ too and rather than the beautiful winter landscape with flocks of winter geese I’d been saving, I chose a vividly coloured one I’d done before…
I decided I needed to find some colour in nature. So colour would be my focus for that day’s walking. There’s a small area of woodland on my local walks rota (I’m very lucky in that respect to have a few different local habitats I can choose), and I sensed that might be the place. I remembered noticing, the last time I was there, the almost lurid green of moss growing on logs and on the trunks of some of the native trees. Maybe I could find some other colours too if I put my mind to it (and my phone – it’s my only camera). There’d be some hawthorn and other red berries left surely, even though there’d been a recent (glorious!) visitation of fieldfares and redwings, munching their way methodically through the hedgerows. So yes, there might be birdy-brights too: robins, of course, or male chaffinches looking really smart now in their orange breeding plumage.
This was my first lovely shock though: the sun was still winter-low, even at mid-day, but making a partial effort to shine, and it seemed to set this small beech tree aflame.
The coppery orange leaves were glowing, and even the narrow black branches had a brightness, seen against the backdrop of the other tree trunks.
And here are those mossy logs – and a mossy tree trunk too. I think the rain rain rain before the snow-thaw snow-thaw snow-thaw has something to do with the startling green of every bit of moss I could see that day.
I wandered on, looking for other splashes of colour among the greys, the browns and the not-really-anythings. The sun came out momentarily, and the rays caught a patch of the woodland floor which looked as if someone had scattered bright yellow gemstones among the dark mess of leaf mould and twigs. I love gemstones: there is one called citrine, which is usually quite glassy-looking, but sometimes appears more opaque, and small cabochons of it look like blobs of custard. Jasper is usually in brown and red shades, but there is a rare yellow form which also has the custard appearance. So there they were: dozens of small bright yellow cabochons of citrine and jasper… maybe there was an even rarer yellow sapphire amongst them? I hope my words can do the vision justice, because I’m not sure the photograph does:
Closer inspection revealed them to be crab apples: the smallest I’ve ever seen, and so many of them scattered around. Closer inspection also revealed that they were not perfect cabochons at all, because many of them had tiny entrance and exit holes in them, or slighter bigger holes with the teeth and beak marks of little woodland creatures who were using them as their winter larder. I wiped one on my sleeve and took a little nibble myself. It was horribly sour, and I had to spit it out, but I still enjoyed the experience of finding something wild growing (or in this case fallen) and eating it. And – joy of joys – among the tiny yellow apples, one yellow aconite flower. Unless you’re really familiar with this gorgeous late winter plant, you’ll not spot it in this photo, but if you want to try, it’s 9 o’clock to the bottom of the tree.
My last vision of loveliness before heading home was not quite colour – since it was white – but like the black of the beech, it was vividly bright against the duller background. And again, like the mosses, the green was bright and fresh. I don’t think anyone needs me to name this particular beauty.