This plant, a wildflower, is my favourite flower of all. I love all flowers, both great and small, tree flowers, shrub flowers and any other type I encounter, they remind me of the goodness of life.
This blog may well annoy my critics because it’s not about woodworking nor is it related to wood in trees or at the workbench in any way. The Rosebay Willowherb means more to me than all the other flowers because it’s the first flower that struck me as beautiful from my childhood exposure in unkempt land that was my introduction to self motivated nature study. I was seven. Cinnabar moths, a daytime delta shaped moth, skipped and flitted from pink spire to pink spire, hesitating for only seconds before moving on. The land was a triangular acreage, around 300 I suppose, hemmed in on three sides by railway tracks and a shunt yard. Back then the land seemed to be making its way back from being abandoned and abused waste land. As with many people, I’ve often found myself liking ‘weeds’. Perhaps these perennials remind me of my own life growing up on and with the waste land as my backyard yet thriving as I adapted to benefit the world I live in. This particular weed has several names. Known as the Bombweed of Britain the seeds drifted in to colonise the bombed out zones of Britain after the second world war and then it was associated with the revival of cities like London itself. In the north America it’s known as fireweed as it appears after intense forest fires that left the earth scorch scarred. Where I come from you will find the spires of pink standing sentinel on railway bankings and what we once called recreation grounds, which were often former bombed out areas of any town.
So here I am, still awed by their beauty and the memories of catching Cinnabar moth caterpillars, jersey-striped yellow and black bands equally spaced, in a jam jars and adding leaves for food while waiting for them to attach themselves for cocooning. I’m looking back on my life and looking forward into the future. The raw beginnings of my woodworking resulted from an intent to survive. When my craft became mine, and I owned it, I found the freedom I needed to be my lifestyle woodworker off the conveyor belt.