Spontaneously, during this period of self-isolation we have been walking (and in Luiz’s case, biking) more. We are surrounded by countryside and can walk or bike for hours barely crossing paths with others, and if so, at well over the required two metres.
Building up to more or less a daily walk, I’ve been doing a 10km circular across fields, through the next village, then climbing into the beginning of the Jura forest, following a wooded lane around the back of an ancient abbey, before heading back towards the lake and home, on a clear day with the Mont Blanc before me.
At some point, about 6 weeks ago, I remembered the app installed last year which allows you to identify wild flowers and trees. I started using it again, and have been amazed at the number of plants that have been burgeoning beauty.
Using it has a great benefit beyond learning the names of flowers – you look more carefully. As you walk, in addition to taking in the sunlight dappling through the vivid lime green spring leaves, or the beauty of the logs and stumps dotting the ground, or a distant cuckoo-coo or the hollow toc-toc of the woodpecker, you notice plants that weren’t visible yesterday.
You then have to get up close and personal to take a good enough photo for the app to identify them. This means leaning or crouching at their level and noticing the details of them. The names are also often intriguing or enchanting, and learning them anchors the plant’s appearance in your mind. On subsequent strolls you look out for the newly spotted Herb of Paris or Dog’s Mercury or Carpet Bugle. And you notice that the flowers are spiking up or opening like bells. Or that where you had only seen one, there are now a dozen of them. Or a hundred.
Which also reminds me of the statistic of the season.
I always noticed flowers as I walked, but the naming of them has invited a new level of looking, opening a whole new world of minute beauty and wonder. I have now tabulated them, and found the richness of alternative names, the Latin terms and in some cases the French. I was going to list the names here, but it’s too rich a dose to take in, so over the coming weeks I will share them with you, along with any half-decent photos I’ve been able to take or find, without the skills or equipment for macro-photography.
And, further celebrating the advent of May, let me share anew the 12th century provençal / occitan poem that always comes to mind at this time of year.
Note too the calligraphy below – thinking of the poem gave me a chance to dust down a collection done years ago. And to discover that after 13 years together, I had never actually mentioned or shown this to Luiz. Now I have!
May your May be verdant and blooming.
And in case you’re interested, the app is Seek by iNaturalist.
Photo credit: EvgeniT & CongerDesign at pixabay