Let Nature take its course

Step out into the garden, and the countryside beyond at the moment, and you’ll find snowdrops doing what they do best in January – piercing the barren earth, colonising grassy patches, nestling under trees and marching across gladed hillsides.  Untroubled by unseasonal weather, their inner clocks direct them to grow, multiply, and cheer us all up in an otherwise gloomy, un-festive sort of month.  That’s Nature for you: ordered, seasonal and predictable.

A farmer's field? Or Sleningford-by-the-sea?
A farmer’s field? Or Sleningford-by-the-sea?

But Nature has another face.  Come with me beyond the garden, past the fields slickly shimmering with surface water, to the banks of the River Ure.  Just two minutes walk from here, it makes a wide sweeping curve away from its route from West Tanfield, and (normally) meanders gently into Ripon. That was before this winter, this rain, this unending water.

Once the rains came, and once it reached town, the River Ure rather wanted to swamp people’s gardens and make a bid to enter their houses.  Recently-built flood defences put paid to that idea.  The River Ure took its revenge on us, or more specifically, on the farmer whose fields adjoin us.  Up in the hills, waters from streams and rivulets in the Dales cascaded into the Ure, which gushed and surged along its course, rising higher and higher, tearing at the banks, ingesting great clods of earth and forcing them downstream.  The water levels are falling now.  The damage remains.

The River Ure seizes the land.
The River Ure seizes the land.

Look.  Here’s a chain link fence which marks  a pathway running along the edge of the farmer’s field.  It should be on terra firma, with a nice grassy margin between the fence itself and the river bank.  Now it has nothing to hold onto.  The bank has been snatched away, and the fence is hanging crazily and directly over the swelling waters below.  The earth has slipped, and continues to slip.  The farmer is losing his field, and the river is changing course.  There’s not much anybody can do about it.

We’ll watch the water awhile, and frighten ourselves witless at the prospect of falling in and being swept mercilessly away. Then we’ll wander back though the woods, and enjoy the snowdrops and aconites once more.  Nature takes its course.

The steps through the woods.
The steps through the woods.

17 thoughts on “Let Nature take its course”

  1. Wow, it’s definitely warmer where you are than where I live. The ground is snow covered here–and I think that it will be 6 weeks or more before the snow drops peak through the earth..

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  2. It certainly looks very, very soggy everywhere. It’s amazing that the snowdrops haven’t rotted or perhaps they are varieties suitable for a ‘water meadow’ 😉 Bet your walking boots were splendidly muddy!

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  3. Oh, I hate to see those photos of the flood damage! When our area flooded 5 years ago, I was horrified at how slowly the water levels went down . . . and how quickly they went back up when it rained! In our case, the flooding was called “historic” and “once-in-100-years”–I hope that your area finds that to be true and can start to re-group!

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    1. We haven’t got it bad here. It’s other areas that are really suffering. But we’re hearing ‘once in a lifetime’ rather often, I think. Constant wet is the new normal.

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  4. Beautiful photos, love snowdrops, the first symbol of hope that the dark days of Winter are coming to an end, except this year it doesn’t really feel like we’ve had a proper Winter. Crocuses and daffodils are all out and there is even some summer alyssum and nemesia still flowering!

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  5. We live on the margins of an ancient landslide. Little solace in knowing this, as the rain pelts down on the rooftop above. Funny how we stay on, knowing nature will eventually take its course, whether this week, next year, or in a hundred years. The landslide scarp is beautiful, with enormous trees growing on it, hundreds of years old, taking root in the deposit left behind after the last big slide.

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  6. Like you we have daffodils, snowdrops, blackthorn blossom and I noticed a flowering quince out yesterday. But it’s my bees I’m worried about, there was a lot of activity outside the hive the other day and I realised that new bees were doing orientation flights – we shouldn’t have any new bees until April!

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