Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Verbascum, auburn, squab

For a long time I have been trying to put a name to the stately plant with broad, hairy leaves and tall spikes of small, closely ranked yellow flowers with purple stamens, which has sprung up next to the runner beans.It is verbascum, or mullein. It has lots of old, country names, among them: Aaron's rod, our lady's candle and donkey's ears.

From my favourite lookout post in the Pantiles I see a mother and her small daughter opposite the spring. Both have auburn hair. The mother poses the little girl in front of the incription about the spring's discovery. The little girl has a fluffy, toy dog in her arms which she holds up for the picture. It has a broad streak of auburn in its coat, a perfect match for mother and daughter.

Squab is not a word you use very often. But I have to use it today. The sad, baby pigeon which I met going through the neighbour's garden, was minute, fluffy and bewildered by the world - a squab. When it saw me, it stopped crashing around and remained perfectly still, believing perhaps that if it didn't move I wouldn't see it - a habit of the nest, when danger threatens perhaps?

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