When I first moved to Asia, I quickly became fascinated by the paddy fields. Terraces of glorious, shining green stretching as far as the eye could see. As the paddy started to ripen, the edgy bright green would start to deepen to a dusky yellow and laborious transplanting and thinning would make way for harvesting. But what particularly fascinated me, I am embarrassed to say, was that I could not fathom out how these fields of green could transform into the grains of rice on the shelves of shops and supermarkets. It was to take me more than one season of observation, understanding the threshing, asking questions and gathering little shoots of paddy to watch in my own home before I could unravel and understand the journey from field to rice sack and the transformation that took place. I am thankful that this was before Google was there to give me a quick answer!
While this fascination took place half a world away, it is one of those everyday wonders which happens under our noses. I have the same wonder now back in Scotland, and even in my fifth blossom season since returning I am still unravelling the mystery and magic of the everyday fruit blossom which surrounds us.
And who doesn’t love blossom? It is a sheer delight to look at, transforming the streets in shades of pinks and whites around us for a fleeting season with its exuberance and joy. But it goes so much deeper. In each tiny blossom there contains magic, hope and promise all in one. Each flower holds within it the potential to form a perfect apple, cherry, pear, plum, gooseberry, blueberry … But how many of us pause and watch as those exquisite little flowers turn into a completely different being? My curiosity has been similar to that of the rice journey, but at this stage in life, how have I missed the detail of the journey of our fruits? Each year since my return to Scotland, I have delved a little deeper and each year learned a little more.
Having discovered a blueberry bush last year, and enjoyed its produce on a daily basis while it was fruiting, I have been curious to see how these perfect berries take shape. This year the blueberry was one of the first to show little shoots of life when the wind and snow was discouraging signs of spring. And it has led the way in encouraging the rest of the blossoms with its exotic pink clusters of blueberry promises.
As the blossoms unfurl, mature and then gradually fall, I have taken the time to witness the particular path each is taking as its own fruit is nurtured. And it is such an intricate and purposeful path. I find it both comforting to see the power and precision of nature alongside shame that humankind is inflicting damage and destruction in the pursuit of power and greed.
I choose to focus my attention on the promise of hope in the form of these little blossoms and the magic they contain. As the days march forwards through spring, and these northern days lengthen, I am bearing witness to surprises as the blossoms transform and tell their stories.
Against a steely grey sky, the plum blossoms have fallen, making starry silhouettes which are busy shaping into tiny plums.
The petals are falling from the pear tree, and revealing work already underway as the stalks form into little cotton buds in the shape of minute pears. Little future pears.
The elongated blueberry blossom is losing its red colour and forming into a spherical, blushing pink mystery which will be my breakfast staple in a few weeks time.
But perhaps one of the greatest surprises has been the humble gooseberry. A traditional fruit which transports me back to my childhood with memories of gooseberry jam, crumble and fool. And one which has been overshadowed by the availability of more varieties of fruits from further afield. So I was quite astounded to follow the journey of the humble gooseberry as it formed the most sophisticated lantern of blossom with great enthusiasm. These images are taken very close up and mask the fact that these little blossoms are half the size of my pinkie nail.
And it is providing the most astonishing transformation that I have witnessed so far. The intricate and little known gooseberry blossom transforms into the tiniest, hairiest, most perfect shy gooseberry taking me back to my childhood.
Thank goodness I have decided to slow down and unfurl, otherwise I might never have discovered these unexpected happenings right under my nose.
No matter where we are in the world, there are mysteries and surprises all around us. It is up to us to choose what we use our eyes and minds for.