Saturday, May 10, 2014

Daffodil railside archaeology

Untouched nature
One last fragment of "untouched" nature lies besides the Gouda - The Hague railway. Enclosed between the railway and the highway it is almost inaccessible. You could climb the fences, but you would get stuck in the mud and the bramble bushes. From the train this looks like original, virgin wilderness.
With traces of previous inhabitants
Some traces of civilization are left. In the past probably some allotments bordered the railway. There are still clumps of ornamental conifers and some fruit trees. But mostly it is wild nature, willows, poplars, grass, weeds, reeds and many, many brambles.
In spring a few bushes of Forsythia give evidence of previous human inhabitants. But the daffodils are the most widespread and most visible proof. In theory they could be a wild species, but most likely they are cultivated.
The species is native to Western Europe from Spain to Germany and England.
The wild Daffodil was originally found in meadows, forests and rocky places. The wild species is on the Dutch endangered list and it's very rare and greatly diminished. The plant has been extensively cultivated and the cultivated form is often found in the wild.
It is very difficult to photograph the daffodils from a speeding train. My experiment with "burst" mode failed miserably. The train is simply too fast (130km/h) for the camera. Next time I'll try to move the camera along with the movement of the target, but even this will be difficult. The flowers are very close to the train and their angular speed is enormous.
And with poetry in motion
The difficulty of photographing daffodils from a speeding train gives another interpretation to a poem by Robert Herrick. Haste away! Stay, stay! Short time to stay! Never be found again! All these thoughts go through your head as you try to capture the fleeting images.
Fair Daffodils, we weep to see you haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun has not attain'd his noon.
Stay, stay, until the hasting day has run but to the even-song;
And, having pray'd together, we will go with you along.
We have short time to stay, as you, We have as short a spring;
As quick a growth to meet decay, As you, or anything.
We die as your hours do, and dry away,
Like to the summer's rain; Or as the pearls of morning's dew,
Ne'er to be found again.
Recently we sung this poem in a choral arrangement by Benjamin Britten. Here is the recording. You can hear the speed and haste.

1 comment:

  1. Somewhat of an odd story where I never felt the fear and read purely for curiosity's sake. Maybe some people due live on with a detached knowledge of Occult powers?... Anyway, here in southwest Florida, the Ghost Orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii) is a symbol of conservation and sustainability. I had the pleasure of viewing one (through binoculars) at the Corkscrew Swamp Preserve ;)