In today’s Rainbow Snippets, you get bonus bluebells (and azaleas and duckling and goslings and blossom and spring foliage and.. and.. and). For those who don’t know, my blog is equal parts writing and walking. I’d usually do a separate post to explore all the history of the landscape, but this one is simple, so just scroll down if you want to find out about the man who decided to ‘paint a picture’ with trees.
In the meantime, here’s my snippet of the week, again from Recovery. There’s more going on in Raif’s life than romance, and here he makes contact with the community of exiled Tiallatai in Aliann (Raif is a very recent immigrant from Tiallat–a country that has just emerged from years under a totalitarian government).
He found the bookshop and his father’s friend, Ulviye, who was a tiny woman in a bright purple headscarf who fell on him with a cry of delight when she heard his name. She seemed more astounded by how tall he was than his presence in Aliann, and he regretted that he couldn’t remember her, especially once she started to tell him stories of his parents. Her shop was a marvel in itself, tiny and crammed with scrolls and books—some hand written but many printed, mostly in Sharan, but also in Latai and six or seven other languages he didn’t recognise. A samovar bubbled in the corner of the counter, its steam directed through a slanting window in the roof of the shop, and little twisting stairways led to further rooms overflowing with more and more words. She tugged him around the shop by his sleeve, introducing him to all her customers as ‘the poet Namik’s son’ and those who were Tiallatai bombarded him with questions about the people and places they had left behind. There were tears, then, and sighs of understanding when he had no news to share, and he was left startled and breathless, because he had never heard so many people speak at once anywhere in Tiallat.
And here, as promised, are a great many bluebells. This is Winkworth Arboretum(and some of the nearby woods and river). It’s a local marvel, founded by one Wilfrid Fox, who bought and landscaped the valley in the early twentieth century, adding a lake. The original larches which grew here were requisitioned and felled by the Ministry of Supplies in WW2 to make pit props. Dr Fox was dismayed by the loss of the larches, until he realised the opportunity it offered him to replant. He selected his trees for their autumn foliage, but did not neglect the colours they would show throughout the year–there are a thousand species here, and at this time of year the whole place is carpeted with bluebells. He gave the estate to the National Trust in 1952 and they still manage it (I shared my table at lunch with one of their volunteers and spent a very pleasant half hour chatting about local walks and taking his advice on the best route to the river). These pictures barely hint at the true colour. Imagine it four or five times as bright, and you’ll get a hint of how stunning it is.