It's very hard to wish you all a happy new year when so many are experiencing hardship. Whether you are trying to get muddy water out of what used to be your home, digging your children out of the rubble of an air strike in Syria, fighting forest fires in drought ridden Spain, or contemplating the failed COP 21 agreement, I am thinking of you.
What am I waiting for next? Male silver washed fritillary spinning and dancing in flight, skydancing red kites, powdery pink pillows of thrift and purple spikes of spring squill on the coast, meadows filling with colour, the coconut gorse and a turquoise sea - and that's just on the coast. Lots to come!
We are connected to this world in more ways than imaginable, in the ground and in the air; everything is made up of the basic building blocks of life, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen. Trees are one of these givers of life, and how humans and trees correspond to give each other life is one of the most fundamental, yet essential aspects of ecology that much of the world lets slip from their minds...
"Grow your economy. And become poorer!" Not a very inspiring message. It doesn't even sound coherent. But however stupid it might sound, that is what is still happening in many developing countries. And if you don't believe that it is possible to grow your GDP at the same time as seeing a decline in your national wealth then consider the following...
The Amazon rainforest is the largest gathering of trees on the planet, covering 5,500,000 square kilometers. The area is vast, spread across nine countries: the majority in Brazil (60%), followed by 13% in Peru 10% in Colombia and other small variants in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
In late June and early July the evening air of an avenue of Lime (Tilia) trees is filled by the intoxicating, honey scent of Linden blossom. It's especially noticeable after a shower of summer rain. Linden flowers when steeped in boiling water, produce a fragrant sweet tea. The flowers and bracts (leaves) dry quickly and can be stored in an airtight jar.
Socotra. The name conjures images of the exotic and unknown, an island paradise, with breathtaking beaches and a truly alien landscape. Where is this place, you might ask. The answer is Yemen.