A visit to a local nature reserve today, one managed by Gwent Wildlife Trust. The reserve is home to a population of Greater Butterfly Orchids, a flower I was keen to see, smell and photograph. So, as it was a lovely sunny day, I grabbed my camera and off I went in delighted anticipation.
Upon entering the reserve it was clear that it was something special, a kaleidoscope of colourful flowers and grasses that shimmered in the gentle summer breeze. The whole field pulsed, as though alive with the undulating sway of the rich flora, I was seemingly cast adrift in a sea of fragrant colour. Above this dancing floral tapestry, the air hummed with the persistent droning of countless winged insects as they flitted urgently from flower to flower to seek out sweet nectar, a reward well earned for their gift of industrious pollination. More serenely, a myriad of moths and butterflies fluttered and cavorted, unaware of, or unconcerned by my presence, as they went about their business with steely determination; the fragility of their bodies belying an inner resolve. The call of nature, to those short lives still governed by the seasons, is strong and inexorable - it’s all about the birds and the bees. Such life, such diversity, I pondered what our countryside must have been like in the past when such sights were not such a scarcity.
I had been concerned that I may not be able to find the butterfly orchids but I needn’t have worried. It was clear that other nature lovers had made this pilgrimage, as a carefully chosen but well trodden path led me straight to my quarry. There, within such beauty, a richer beauty stood. Flowers which shone like beacons of radiant luminescence appeared as glowing angels dancing around the Maypole, forming an intricate weave in reverence to Gods long forgotten. A ritual performed largely unseen since the beginning of time; now a symbol of stubborn resistance against globalisation, enacted in hidden enclaves. Like most orchids she was certainly ostentatious, although not vulgar or crass with it. Nevertheless, compared to a flower such as the Twayblade there is self assured smugness to her display, and why not? If you have got it, flaunt it!
I took a moment to observe her, sometimes rushing straight in with the camera you fail to truly see what you are looking at. Photographs tend to place subjects in isolation, therefore removing any context. Take some time to observe the surrounding environment, the bigger picture.
I stayed at the reserve for a few hours taking photos and soaking in the ambience, forgetting life’s woes. We must be grateful for the splendid work that organisations such as the Wildlife Trusts carry out to preserve our heritage, please support them whenever possible. We must also rue the fact that such organisations are necessary, that the last remnants of our glorious traditional landscapes have been herded, corralled and interred in this splendid isolation. Such places offer us a glimpse of what once was, but can never be again.