Thursday 5 September 2013
Offerings to the Gods
Liparis loeselii (Fen Orchid) and it used to be a real treat to get out of the lab once a year and visit the sites in the Norfolk Broads. Haven't done so for several years so I seized the opportunity to join the team from Cambridge University Botanic Garden who had a licence to collect a few plants to establish in an experimental fen.
Had a very early start to get to Cambridge for 7.30 then meeting others from Plantlife and Butterfly Conservation near the site. The outboard motor on the punt wasn't working so we made our way down the creek the traditional way with forked branches to push away from the banks. Peaceful and brimming with wildlife, a magical experience. We then moored at a point when we could climb up the bank, enter the fen and fan out across the site looking for Fen orchids. These are found at the base of the reeds and sedges on mats of moss, quite a challenge to find as the vegetation is taller than I am! So I was well chuffed to spot a nice clump of orchids , including one with a seed pod for my work and a nice specimen to take back to Cambridge.
Then I realised I was no longer wearing my wedding and engagement rings. They must have come off whenpatiently parting vegetation looking for plants. Gutted and cross with myself for wearing them out in the field - I take them off for gardening after 2 scares.
As a result, I probably wasn't concentrating as well as I should have been when getting aboard the punt, missing my footing and falling spectacularly into the water, rucksack and all. Luckily I'd a spare pair of trousers and socks etc as I'd come prepared after a previous outing when the water in the fens had been so deep it came over my wellies. No top though so I had to borrow a sweatshirt, changing in the Ladies at a local pub ( they didn't bat an eyelid when I walked in drenched).
In discussions over a beer, the subject of bronze age archaeology came up, the spectacular finds at Flag Fen. Where the land dissolves into water is a mystical place where you could talk with the gods and votive offerings of great value were made.
So much as I'm sad at the loss of my rings, it feels a symbolic place to have done so, taking precious plants in exchange. Perhaps some time in the far future, they will be found and wondered on.