Springtime As As I Collect My Nettle Tops.
Notes from a Lancashire Countryman
The sun was shining brightly, the sky an azure blue, only wisps of cloud sailing across the meadows, which were playing host to vigorous new growth, competing with a mass of golden dandelions. The hedgerows are now green and the tiny flowers of the hawthorn are developing in the bosom of leaves. What a pleasure it is to walk through lush , fresh meadows when so many of their ilk have succumbed to suburbia.
Grasses danced in a genial breeze, soft and gentle cooling for travellers and inhabitants alike.Cattle grouped in the neighbouring pasture were lazily chewing the cud with eyes half closed. early white butterflies danced over arching brambles that tenanted the margin by the gate.
Low down in the leafy thicket the shrill jet of notes sang by the wren reverberated on the breeze. I have observed this tiny bird when singing, its tiny body quivering with immense joy. Birds of the hedgerow are ever alert even in places of seclusion.The bird life is opulent in this locality. Lapwings wheeling and tumbling, enjoying life to the full cry their plaintive notes to all who care to listen. At the tip of a tall tree on the flimsiest of twigs swaying in the breeze,a green finch attempted to sing his nasal notes. He seemed to me to be attempting this performance from a precarious position.
Top. Lapwing. Bottom Greenfinch
Along the hedgerow
Along the hedgerow I saw the flowers of herb robert their little pink faces peeping out from the hedge bottom along side the stitchwort's starry flowers. These and other spring blooms are just a dress rehearsal of the floral extravaganza to follow during the summer months.
I collected my nettletops for the purpose of making a nettle tea, a drink that is good for the blood and refreshing to the palate, from a swathe, where the white throat and his wife raise their family, concealed and protected by these stinging sentinels.
To many people an unpleasant feature of grassland herbage is the spit-like froth of the froghopper nymph. This froth is produced by the nymph to protect its soft body from being consumed by birds and other insectivores. The adult when at rest is suggestive of a small frog. Although it has wings it is much given to hopping, hence this tiny insect gained its common name.
Even the abundance of this unpleasant feature could not detract from this campestral beauty all around me as I carried my nettle tops home in a moistened plastic bag.