Saturday, 2 July 2011

Gentle, delightful, civilising. Welcome to the bog.

We are away with the geologists and hydrologists at Burnham Beeches, admiring the many wonders of water.

Such as this bog.

And a sink hole.

Oddly, I discover I am greedy for bogs. Bogs, mud pits, wet earth, disappearing streams and sink holes.

But these things are enormously evocative, are they not?

No? Well, maybe it is a sad woman's substitute for sex, and the thrills of discovering earth's saucy secrets about clay and chalk action, drainage and porosity, or perched water tables and submerged springs are realisable, when everything else is not; maybe it is that. Or maybe it is my tedious middle age and I have climbed slowly to a jaded point where landscape promises what life does not: infinite futures, promises of exploration, complex relationships, and a child-like delight that human behaviour can yet be wondrous, when we intrigue between earth materials, micro-ecologies and the impulse to dig stuff out of the ground.

So, staring at a bog is an endlessly thrilling and inspiring passion that I admit to. Yes, I shall admit it, and I shall stop using the children's education as a cover. I'll come out and say that I don't much care whether tramping the fields and woods is educational or not for the little grits. I don't even really care whether they come along. But they seem to get in the car with me, although sometimes I suspect they are merely following the picnic lunch.

Of course I speculate on what futures will come of this, but I can only think up good. Squirrel might yet do sciencystuff: she seems to genuinely enjoy field trips to quarries and holes in the ground. She is endlessly sieving soil and collecting gravel in her pockets. I also note that she has developed a smart technique of stashing rocks down her socks.

Shark comes along I don't know why, possibly because she is generous and good-naturedly tolerant of the non-fishy natural world. Tiger, I strongly suspect, would rather be nesting in stables with twenty trash pony novels, but she tags along for the fresh air and the exercise.

I tell myself they will thank me in years to come. They will fondly recall spending their Saturdays stuck in a damp corner of a wood somewhere in the northern hemisphere, staring at a bog. Either that, or the grey drizzle, field walks, wet feet, aching legs, alternating biting gales and sunburned noses of English weather.

Who knows? They might become secretly protective of their intimate knowledge of bogs and sink holes. Their knowledge will be power. At the very least, they can use it to impress a boy, or avoid one who shows far too keen an interest in the waxing of his hiking boots.

For each of us then: inspired, delighted, generous and exercised.

No bad outcome for a bog.

1 comment:

sharon said...

Lovely pictures Grit. Should you manage another trip Downunder there are plenty of country walks and the geology in some places is rather spectacular.