I’ve been meaning to make elderflower cordial for weeks now, so this evening when I arrived home from work, after a cup of coffee in the garden, I was out in our local area collecting elderflowers from the hedgerows. It reminded me of how lucky I am to live where I do. Although I live on a new housing estate, we have plenty of wild areas to visit on our doorstep. In the centre of our area is an ancient woodland copse, an SSSI, with a boardwalk through it. I started by walking there, just minutes from my front door, a family of blue tits with fledglings greeting me as I stepped into the cool embrace of the trees. Earlier in the year the copse is awash with a violet carpet of bluebells split by vibrant yellow patches of primroses. Now it is a thousand shades of green, from the myriad shades of the leaves on the trees to the deep dark greens of bracken on the woodland floor. Brambles bloom, a bumper crop developing, bees buzzing from flower to flower, an opportunity for a quick bee count, a queen bee joining her subjects in the gathering. A lone orchid grew by the stream, a spot of pale purple amidst the green.
Bird song is loud in the woods, insects buzz, rabbits patrol the undergrowth and squirrels shimmy round trunks. Deeper in the woods deer lurk, sometimes to be seen, and hedgehog casualties on the road bear testament to their presence here. A special place, one I am very lucky to live so close to.
Coming out of the copse, I spotted my first elder, a couple of heads removed, most have gone over, berries already forming, a winter feast for the birds. I headed on, past the oak in its glade, admiring poppies colonising the edge of the path. Into the edgelands, the woodland strip between the houses and the industrial estate, prime territory for foraging- elderflowers in midsummer, blackberries as autumn deepens. I wandered back through the estate, noticing the weeds and how beautiful many of them are.
At home, one of our hamsters joined in our 30dayswild challenge, sniffing the flowers before they were added to the cordial to infuse.
The kitchen smells amazing, sweet and heady as the cordial infuses, the essence of summer waiting to be bottled.
This week is also National Insect Week, and in honour of this I picked up a magazine I never normally read, Country Life, attracted by the beautiful illustrations of moths on the cover, and spent my lunchtime enjoying the beautiful pictures and descriptions of some of the most amazing macro moths. At home, my husband Phil had found a sadly deceased little bee on some of our flowers and had saved it to show me. It’s a small species of bee, and we’ll have to spend some more time identifying it, but if anyone knows what it is, I’d love to know.
The next two days are going to be the most difficult of the challenge for me, in terms of fitting in random acts of wildness. Tomorrow I am working and then heading straight to a gig in London, although I hope to keep my eyes open and notice some wildness on the way. On Thursday I am working as a poll clerk, and will be inside the polling station from just after 6am until sometime after 10pm. Not much time for wildness, but maybe something early in the morning or late at night, we’ll see.
If you are a UK voter I urge you to head to your poll station on Thursday and vote, have your say, whichever way you intend to vote, either exit or remain, this is too important an issue not to use your vote.