At 5.45am we emerged sleepily from our front door. I was awake enough to notice the untidy state of our front garden an abundance of weeds and wild grasses, ivy, roses and shrubs desperately in need of more than a trim. I sighed wondering when I would have the time to tackle this pressing chore.
The dawn was promising us a lovely day – blue sky and the merest wisp of clouds and a gentle zephyr buffed our cheeks, but the initial negative thought hovered as we trundled onward on the 171 Bus to Waterloo on route to the antique fair at Epsom.
I leaned, companionably, against Ian’s shoulder, he possibly attributed my mum-chance* to the early hour and didn’t disturb my thoughts. There was a handful of other passengers and the driver seemed to be in a hurry so we bowled along.
Maybe I was still sleepy, my thoughts random but my mood remained despondent despite this being a planned visit to something I greatly enjoy. Brockley and New Cross went by in a haze. It was somewhere between New Cross and Camberwell, as the bus slowed in the growing volume of traffic, that my mood burst like champagne bubbles. Unbelievable, unexpected on the road side verge was a broad sash of wild flowers, a burst of colour; Poppies, Buttercups, Camomile daises, Vetch, Viola, Foxglove their fragile symmetry reaching exuberantly to the sunrise. They flourished in the clear morning light the vibrancy of their colours, yellow, red, pink and purple, undiminished by the encroaching concrete and asphalt. *(Language of flowers)
These were not random seeds blown thither by the breeze. This was a wild flower mix scattered by an unknown hand on a piece of, unprepossessing, ground; a secret garden that many could enjoy in passing, lifting the spirits of a stranger on a bus.
No one else on the bus seemed to have noticed them, they were snoozing, playing with their mobiles or reading the metro. I wanted to share it with someone but even Ian was napping. My heart soared buoyed up by the unexpected visual feast.
It reminded me of my own wild patch – the roses, small and white, blushed with gold, rampant in June this year because of the mildness of the spring. In flower for weeks giving off a delicious scent so that people passing my gate catch their fragrance. That shrub, the resplendent Glorie de Versailles, that needs more than a trim, who’s lavender-blue flowers stop people in their tracks and for a while they forget the traffic and breath in the perfume of summer to share the show like I had that morning.
Nature has a way of taking the hard edges off the city; hair tail grass in the crack between wall and pavement, a Buddleia in a rooftop crevice, it’s purple tipped wands dipping and waving attracting bees and butterflies, the faithful forget-me-not in the Victorian architectural swag on the Fire Station on Camberwell Road, the short-lived scarlet poppies populating any patch of earth, glowing in sun or shade, even the musky, sweet smelling, Indian balsam in some dank spot near Waterloo Bridge.
The rest of the journey I spent looking for these welcome migrants from country to city, which add colour and light and shade an unlooked-for legacy. Migrants have a way of doing that. London is reputably one third green space, whether it is manicured parks or unkempt garden, which despite neglect, will without human interference, become a wildlife haven, the so-called weeds – wild flowers – rubbing shoulders with their cultivated cousins.
Dictionary English UK definition: Mum-chance – adjective – silent, thoughtful.
*(Language of flowers) See Squirrel Nutkin* was conspicuous by his absence
My latest novel (really my first novel) ‘Of a finer Ruth’ will hopefully be publishes before Christmas. And as a Christmas present to all my friends I am putting my two other publications, Reflections of the Old Past and Red Sky at Dawning: the Time Oak, as free books for a week at Christmas.