oak apples.


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  • How do you do?
    I'm Jamie; an incurably-curious, hopelessly-idealistic, vegetarian, polyglot-ish plant scientist at Cambridge. I spend too much time listening to music, wandering around the countryside, and eating apples.


    penchants: forest walks, benjamin britten, mediaeval history & literature, eastern philosophy, obscure tea blends, copperplate, twilight by the sea, quantum mechanics, thunderstorms, fruit trees, early music, dragonflies, postcards, underground railways, gardening, vapour trails, tiny art galleries, volcanic islands, moths, Virginia Woolf, gin cocktails, travel journals, mountain air, handwriting, continental cinema, bow ties, Lebanese food, historical linguistics, archery, all things Icelandic, & bitter-sweet lemonade.
    Thank you for stopping by; do say hello.

    Deception Island, South Shetlands. This semi-submerged volcanic caldera is one of the sites around the Antarctic Peninsula where British Antarctic Survey teams collected the lichens that are now being revived and studied in my lab.

    Photos: Cambridge Volcanology Group

    The menhirs of Filitosa, Corsica. These carved faces date to ca. 1500 BC, and are believed to have been erected as a form of defence against invasion by another people.

    Just came across something I wrote in my early teens. Here it is, faithfully reproduced for your amusement:

    Item 1

    "There was a boy sitting on a wall. Arrows of aureate light skipped between the apple branches and ruptured into small golden pools on the skin of his forearms. A song thrush was tinkering in the stone-wall’s shade, turning over the warm moss with her finely-crafted beak. All the earth’s benevolence and youth was coursing into the webbed roots of the orchard trees, and spilling into tight red orbs with white cores. Those branches, dressed in their deep harvest greens, curved into a vaulted ceiling that upheld the misty-gold evening sky and smiled passively on the dappled rooms it created. At their leisure, the sparrows lyricized their contentment.

    "The boy’s hands bore marks scored by the gnarls and knots of the last apple-tree up which he had picked his way to scrump the tart young fruit- a satisfying conquest. Fair sap-green stains around the knees of his trousers betrayed the memory of moments spent hunched over the damp, sweet ground in search of beetles and the last summer flowers- icy yellow and tender as his fingertips. Now he let his legs hang in front of him over the wall as he felt his mind awash with vague thoughts of autumn leave and cinnamon. His lips curled, and a colourless moth settled by his hand, waited for night."

    Item 2

    "There was a boy sitting on a wall. Black-violet shadows were beginning to ooze in the fissures between the blocks of lichen-pocked stone that made up the wall. A scops-owl in some nearby field gave a shrill warning that all creatures were to obtain their proper places, or else be on their guard, for the sun was banished, and a stern half-moon rising. Rustles, of the sort that stubbornly refuse to betray their origin and that one is bound to encounter while alone in the dark, whispered from every direction. They filled the boy’s ears and imagination with the fantastical, warped shapes and beings of childhood that return to perform visitations on us all at intervals throughout our lives, to remind us that every human is a child until he dies.

    "As the moonlight fought ashen, frothy clouds, bas opened tunnels of sound past the boy’s head, and he sat rigid and fixed in his spot, overtaken by a fear of—he knew not what. His fine features, cast in monochrome, were gloriously useless now, and winced at each new noise lost in the dissolving landscape. What made him stay on, he could not say, but he was sure he must go nowhere else, not even home. Pressing his fingers against the limestone, he recognised the eternal and its tolerance of him. But he could not join it; only guess at how primaevally deep ran the emotions of the elements.

    "There was a sudden movement, not far off, and the boy gasped involuntarily."

    Item 3

    "There was a boy sitting on a wall. He was invisible, a space of blackness in a black expanse. His eyes could not connect to his body- was it there? Somehow, he doubted it. Nor did he have any eyes, in fact. A mind, inside nothing, filled with the twinkling of keys, a ring of keys unlocking successive layers as he dug towards his essence. Words and lights flew at him; faces, his face- in the darkness. Now he drank dreams, oceans of them, clear and fluid as cold water. Nothing disturbed him; there was nothing to disturb him, because he was all that existed. His consciousness was a cradle for the glassy, smooth stalks of germinating ideas, and they cascaded into the night like an army of glow-worms, and shattered into crystalline fragments in an intangible place where nobody will ever voyage again. It is littered with the shards of secret beauty and untold designs, consigned to endless slumber.

    "When the boy awoke, blackbirds were whistling in the treetops and there were toadstools around one of the apple-trees. He had no recollection of the untouched magnificence he had attained in the night, save for a flicker of unknown colours across his tired eyelids. A lone experience is a rumour; had his mind swung around another, as a comet slingshots around a star, the rumour might be a sentence, an argument. The boy is fiction alone; but when he takes a friend with him to the orchard, he is as real as you or I."

    Aeschynanthus radicans. Gesneriads have been on my mind a lot this week.
Photo: biolib.cz

    Aeschynanthus radicans. Gesneriads have been on my mind a lot this week.

    Photo: biolib.cz

    Anonymous said: Go on a date with me?? :)

    Please scroll down five posts.

    Just calculated that I am still approximately £1,300 out of pocket thanks to various expenditures associated with the debacle in California plus movements around Portugal. Sigh.

    Oh, how I love butterworts.

    Oh, how I love butterworts.

    Anonymous said: Independent Scotland: yes or no? What is your opinion?

    The outcome will affect me in many ways, of course, but “Should Scotland be an independent country?” is not a question I can answer. I have opinions and hopes, but I’m not Scottish. It’s not my country and it’s not my referendum. I’m not going into it in any more detail than that, unless anyone would like to discuss it privately.
    Whichever way it goes, the next couple of days are going to be tremendously exciting.

    Anonymous said: Do you have any experiencewith Mesipilus germanica (medlar)? Thanks

    A little. How can I help?

    Anonymous said: Are you in some kind of relationship or single? 😍

    I’m in a relationship.