• Gordon MacLellan

a fanfare for bugle

A Fanfare For Bugle

~ in recognition of nettles

Earlier this week, in the first episode of this year’s BBC Springwatch, presenter Chris Packham said “sometimes, you don’t need the science when it comes to nature. Sometimes, the pure beauty is enough”. There seems to be a strong sense of reflecting on the healing power of experiencing nature and the importance of our emotional connections to the world around us in this year’s Springwatch

That sense of “beauty is enough” lies at the heart of CelebrationEarth! – appreciating this world around us, recognising its value first in its innate wonder and the peace and healing it can offer. It becomes very easy to think of “the beauty of nature” as being a sort of “outside; over there; far away” sort of thing, something out of reach of most of us. From the innermost city to the wildest, bleakest mountaintop of Wales or Scotland, that natural beauty is there. We might not always be in majestic, sweeping landscapes but beauty can be found in the determination of the plants in a city square, in the arching boughs of a London plane tree, in the clap of wings and the swirling flight of a flock of pigeons, the sudden summer scream of swifts above London rooftops. Beauty is there. To realise that, we need to do the looking and finding

Everything is worthy of notice. If you have a wood to walk in, a city park with an unkempt patch, the rough grass the mower misses. If you can peer over a wall into the overgrown corner of a graveyard, the nettles will be there. A wide and generous family, they feed caterpillars, excite bumblebees, enchant hoverflies, provide a solid base for all manner of foodwebs. White-nettle, dead-nettle, archangel and sage. Selfheal, skullcap, woundwort and horehound. They flavour, they heal, they delight. One stings. And we are good at not noticing them, so please, make an effort. Meanwhile…

Bugle* Blows their Trumpet

Barry Patterson

Square stemmed, dark lined

Bugle of the glossy bract

Whose violet lip thrusts

Forth its hairy

Little pollen spotted parts

In a gentle fourfold spiral,

The whole antenna standing proud

Ever so slightly vibrating

In the evening air:

Oh Bugle, you are a most

Shadowed & Saturnian presence

Among the bright constellations

Of the Spring meadow,

Your darkness pushing forth from the earth

Like purple, lotus adorned fingers

You are both sweet & bitter,

& you are so grounded;

You have the pride & strength of a tree.

Although like all the others

You rejoice in the brightness

Of a sunny day

It seems to me

That you await the moonlight!

“When I thrust forth

My little horns, fingers & toes

From out the hill

I wonder who will notice me,

Awaiting the intentions

Of hairy winged, hairy tongued

Scaly, buzzing goddesses of the wind,

I shake, shudder & long

For their attentions,

Sending forth my saw toothed

Voice perfumes to summon maidens.”

“Stout & strong I am

Come from out the mound

Into the realm of day & night

Sun, frost, dew & rain

Again & again to shout my anthem.

Few listen for such as I

But those who pay me heed

Find a loyal & forthright ally,

Speaking my name in deep night

Or day-bright star, moon & sun

Illuminated groves & fields:

If you listen carefully

You will hear me

Bellowing my desire!”

Barry Patterson is a poet, musician & storyteller based in the West Midlands. He is Britain’s widest travelled & longest running Green Man, has been a pilgrim in Tibet & the Himalayas & is an honorary bard of The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids.

Find out more about Barry's work: http://www.redsandstonehill.net/

*Bugle - the plant, not the instrument! Ajuga reptans


To Barry for his poem and to Steve and Mark for our Bugle images

Photographs: from the top

1, 2, 3: c .Steve orridge

4: c. Mark Day, Lightwood Natural History group

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