The Nature of Beauty

We tend not to think of flies as being beautiful, even though we know they’re essential, but perhaps that’s because of the context we associate them with? Have a look at these fellows and see what you think…

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Nature Close-Ups: Dandelions

I’m happiest when I’m outside, exploring. The weather has been extraordinarily wet here recently, but I still make sure I get out for at least a part of every day to immerse myself in the wonders of the natural world.

I love to nose around, looking at things close-up, imagining what it might be like to live as a tiny bug, a bird, or flower. With this in mind, I thought I’d do some simple posts to give you a snapshot of some of the things growing in my neck of the woods. Let’s start with this dandelion, its yellow petals now transformed into a miniature snow-ball.

When I was small, we used to play the game with old flower heads like this one, blowing them to see what the time was (however many puffs it took to blow off all the seeds, that would tell you time!).

Another variant, when we got older, was “She loves me! She loves me not!” After each phrase we’d blow at the seeds. If the last seeds blew away on “She loves me!” all was well in our romantic endeavours, but if they blew away on “She loves me not”….well, I don’t suppose we took much notice! (Of course, it was easy to rig this game, giving an extra-strong puff when we wanted to!)

I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to examine a dandelion-head really closely until now. Have a look at this. The umbrellas at the end of each seed-stalk look a bit like amoebas…

Or should that be brain cells?

Or universes?

“As above, so below…”

In the flowers where some of the seeds have already blown away, you can see how amazingly each one is constructed, with their miniature parachutes on the outside…

And their barbed seed-heads sticking to the pin-cushion at the centre.

The barbs are for catching onto passers-by, so that the plant does not rely solely on the wind to disperse its seeds.

With this combination of aerodynamic design and adhesive seed-heads, it is not surprising that the fields and hedgerows around here are simply filled with dandelions!

The leaves of the dandelion make wonderful food for rabbits and the root can be ground into a powder for use in a decoction that will help urinary infection. A word of caution, though. If you are going to pick the flowers, wear gloves. The juices are very astringent and can cause a nasty rash!

If you like exploring nature, I think you’ll enjoy my book Watchers, which is the first in a series for both children (12+) and adults. Have a look at some of the 5-star reviews on amazon and see what you think!

Paperback amazon.co.uk      Paperback amazon.com

Kindle: amazon.co.uk         Kindle: amazon.com

Until next time,

Best wishes, Essi.

The Answer to the Riddle…

In my last post I asked you to identify this creature, which I saw feeding on the catkins of a Willow last week:

The correct answer was…

…a Peacock Butterfly!

I watched it for some time as it moved from catkin…

…to catkin.

Then it flew to the ground at my feet and perched on an old oak leaf in the grass, sunning itself for a while before flying away again.

Congratulations (and a signed copy of Tilly) go to Peapod Pixie, who was first to correctly identify it!