Thursday 5 September 2013

Offerings to the Gods

One of the orchid conservation projects I've been involved with for a long time is  that for 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.


Margaret Cooter said...

Oh what a tale - so poignant. I feel your loss, and even the shock of the drenching!

Olga Norris said...

Seems a thoroughly memorable day all round - and the perfect weather for it!

Minerva said...

Oh no! What a pity, I'm so sorry. You're doing a good job of being philosophical about it. I suppose now when you visit museums and see items of personal jewellery, you'll wonder about the people who lost them. Perhaps the gods will send you a blessing in return.

Julie said...

I'm glad you weren't hurt by your ducking Mags. Sorry about the loss of your rings too but maybe Minerva will be right.

magsramsay said...

Thanks for the commiserations - I'm looking at getting my mum's wedding ring resized as an interim replacement.
I have a spectacular large purple bruise developing on my leg where I hit the boat going over but apart from that no ill effects.