It’s been another two weeks of mostly insect weather on Southampton Common, and I’ve been enjoying a few opportunities to wander, often close to the heather, which is a favourite location for me to meet my tiny winged friends.
My time on the Common has been quite butterfly heavy, but a close second place goes to the bees. They are a delight to watch, even, or maybe especially, when they are bedraggled in early morning dew. The dragonflies have been a bit sparse on the Common this year I think, probably because of the problems at the Boating Lake, but one or two have sat still for long enough for me to enjoy their company this week.
Despite all the lovely insects, it’s not been all sunshine these past two weeks. I’ve spent a bit of time sheltering under the trees on Southampton Common, and the acorns are already on the trees, reminding me that Autumn is just around the corner. But for now, it’s a beautiful bank holiday weekend, and I am loving summer on Southampton Common.
Before I go, a quick swan update following the blue green algae on the Boating Lake incident: the male swan was collected by the RSPCA just over a week ago, to check on his health. He is fine and has been released at another location. He may well find a new mate and return, so look out for incoming swans! The second cygnet is doing fine and will be released once they are big enough to manage.
Last Thursday I was standing in Southampton Old Cemetery enjoying the sunshine and the return of the bees. Just three days later the Mini Beast from the East had arrived, and we were back in midwinter.
The Mini Beast brought with it just enough snow to transform Southampton Common into a glittering wonderland, and on Sunday morning I had about an hour to explore the magical world that had appeared overnight before some slightly less glistening activities kicked in.
The arrival of snow seems to cause us to become unusually friendly and helpful to our fellow beings. Instead of studiously avoiding eye contact with strangers we smile at everyone we see; exchange pleasantries with people whom we have never met before; and discuss the current snow, our cold weather attire, memories of the last time it snowed, and future possibilities for snow with just about anyone whose path we cross (including people whom we usually actively avoid). If we see someone who is in need of assistance, or looks as if they might be in need of assistance, we rush to their aid, with no concern about looking foolish or nosey if they turn out to be perfectly OK. Generally, this is one of the things that I love about snow days. Everyone in Southampton is my friend and wants to make sure that I am safe and well cared for.
However, on this occasion I was presented with a slight dilemma as I was out and about with a camera and limited time. As a result, I spent much of my snow play time torn between the urge to join in the general camaraderie and good will and the desire to find photogenic spots with reasonably pristine snow in order to justify lugging a camera through the icy streets between my house and the Common. Consequently, I became a somewhat bizarre snow character, marching around the Common with a permanent precautionary grin on my face, speaking in a rapid but upbeat manner to anyone I encountered, whilst using my tripod as a makeshift speed-walking aid.
Notwithstanding my personal peculiarities, the Common was beautiful on Sunday. People of all ages were having fun, sledges of various styles and sizes were out in force, and a range of snow sculptures adorned the main field. We rarely get snow in Southampton, and it is almost all gone now, which is kind of sad. Nonetheless, much as I loved the Narnia-style blanket that it spread over the Common, I am glad to see the spring flowers and blossom peeping back through. Now I can rewind my thinking back to the mini beasts of Spring and Summer. As an extra bonus, my train was delayed this morning and things were slightly chaotic at the station. This created one of the few other circumstances in which English people spontaneously and animatedly talk to complete strangers.