All creatures great and small are welcome...
Painting is my escape from reality. I can literally create any kind of world that I want — with tranquility and peace. All my little animal friends, they all live right here with me. ~Bob Ross
Summer-time and the living is easy, at least that is the line sang in Nina Simone's song that is playing in my head. I am sat here at my keyboard enjoying being inside, as today is one of those rainy summer days. Now, normally I would be moaning that this is a typical British summer, however, we have had weeks of beautiful sunshine with wonderful hot days and warm evenings and so today I am really enjoying being inside and listening to the patter of the raindrops on the window panes, the gentle breeze blowing through the open window and listening to nature taking a sigh of relief as the roots of the trees and hedges drink in the fresh rain water. The roses, the agapanthus, heleniums and dahlias bursting into life as they receive some much needed hydration. Days like these are so precious, I am grateful for the breather and change in temperature. I get to take a break indoors, focus on my writing, my art and reading. I am using this time to reflect on how I have spent my time so far this summer.
After some reflection I decided to take a break from Instagram, I want to feel more present, more focused and stop seeing everything as a photo opportunity for Instagram. This has been harder than I thought as I love to share with people what brings me joy and inspiration and as an artist I do see everything as a photo opportunity, that's I how I see things in my world, observing the form, the colour, the potential to create, however, despite this I recognised that I needed to focus on myself, just for a while. I am in need of some self-care after experiencing an unexpected flare up due to my rheumatoid arthritis. This flare up has caused my hands and fingers to become stiff and swollen which means I don't sleep well at night and it becomes harder to hold a pen or a brush, which is a concern for me. On pondering this, I decided to take my own advice and just slow down, to take a break and stop. Getting outside into nature has been a life line for me and I am going to share with you my observations about who has been visiting my garden and the art I have managed to produce.
Today by Mary Oliver
Today I'm flying low and I'm
not saying a word.
I'm letting all the voodoos of ambitions sleep.
The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
and fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.
But I'm taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I'm travelling
a terrific distance.
Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.
Leaf cutter bees have taken residence in their bug hotel
Bumblebees art by Clare, using watercolour pencils, watercolour and pen
Agapanthus enjoying the rain
In becoming still in the garden I have made many observations when it comes to the wildlife that frequents it throughout the day and the evenings. Sleeping with the windows open or not sleeping, with the windows open, that should say, I have not only observed, but have heard the visitors in the garden. I didn't realise hedgehogs were so noisy! Having rescued Mildred earlier on in the year she is now a regular visitor, snuffling around the bird feeders for any sunflower hearts that may have been dropped by our many pigeons. At the same time every evening she arrives from somewhere behind the greenhouse, which is where I now leave her some tasty snacks and a shallow dish of water. Her favourite food being blueberries and apple. She shuffles and snuffles about, the amusing thing is, she reminds me of Mrs Tiggywinkle as she is quite a large hedgehog, but surprisingly spritely and if disturbed can run at quite a pace back under the hedge. I recently discovered she had a friend, I am unsure of their relationship as I am not sure about either of their genders or whether the smaller hedgehog is her offspring, however, if the smaller hedgehog gets to the snacks before Mildred then it all kicks off. There's no fisty cuffs at dusk, but there is a lot of noise, I am unsure whether they are pleased to see each other or whether Mildred's nose has been put out of joint by having to share her supper. Either way I wait eagerly every night just to hear Mildred enjoying her food. She brings me so much joy. My Christmas wish-list this year will have listed a hedgehog house for Mildred and a night vision camera for me. I rarely make it onto the 'good' list though. I have also seen the bats that fly straight past our bedroom window at dusk, flying up and down in the search for bugs and moths. They are so fast and so accurate, some nights I am surprised they don't fly straight into the room. What with the hedgehogs and the bats, I can also hear the house martins snuggled up together in their home in the eaves, also above our bedroom window. The chattering of contentment as they are all snuggly inside. Their babbling sounds are so calming and makes me feel content too.
I cherish the flowers and plants that grow in my garden, they really do make me happy, the scent, the colours and the wildlife that are so dependent on them. I love to wander barefoot around the grass watching for the bugs, beetles, bees and butterflies that busy themselves throughout the borders and meadow. I have counted so many species of bees this year, the leaf cutter bees, the honey bees, the mason bees and my favourite, the bumble bees. I didn't realise the extensive variety of bumblebees that there are. I have been looking at the bumblebee conservation website which has so much useful information and makes it easy to identify the bees. They state:
Bumblebees are large, furry, and charismatic four-winged insects that belong to an order called the Hymenoptera, which also includes sawflies, ants, and wasps. They are well-known for their meandering, ‘bumbling’ flight, and their distinctive buzz – which is where their Latin name Bombus (meaning ‘booming’) originates. Unlike the honeybee, bumblebees do not make honey, as they do not need to store food for winter. Instead, the season’s new queens hibernate and emerge to find their own nests in the spring.
Seven species of bumblebee are widespread across most of Britain. These are:
Red-tailed (Bombus lapidarius)
Early (Bombus pratorum)
Common carder (Bombus pascuorum)
White-tailed (Bombus lucorum)
Buff-tailed (Bombus terrestris)
Garden (Bombus hortorum)
Tree (Bombus hypnorum)
The bumblebees can range in size and I have seen some whoppers this year, it amazes me how these creatures can fly. If you look at the size of their body and the size of their delicate see-through wings it should be an impossibility but nature is magic. I love to photograph and film the bees when I can, picking up the sound really well as their buzz is so prominent. Using my source photographs I can draw and paint my own, capturing their fuzzy details, but I do find the wings and eyes quite challenging.
My Mum gifted me a book last Christmas, which I will list down below. It's about 'everything' bumblebees, written by Richard Comont for the RSPB. It's a fabulous little book and it has a section about Myth and Legend and Folklore. My blog wouldn't be a blog without a bit of folklore for you.
In Britain, a bumblebee buzzing around your house was thought to foretell the arrival of a visitor. If the bumblebee was a red-tailed species the visitor would be male; if white tailed, they would be female.
If the bumblebee entered the house and landed on a chair, the visitor would stay for a short while, but if it landed on the bed, they were likely to stay overnight.
If anyone killed the bumblebee, the arriving visitor would bring bad news.
Bees are thought to be lucky and in Wales, if the bee sets up home near your house it was considered lucky and would bless you with prosperity.
if you find a bumblebee on a ship it is also a sign of good luck.
If a bumblebee lands on your hand, it means money is coming your way.
A folk charm found in Dawlish, Devon, featured three dead bumblebees in a little bag. This is thought to have been a prosperity charm.
In the museum of witchcraft in Boscastle, Cornwall, you can buy a replica of the prosperity charm, however, there were no bees harmed in this gift as the bees are ceramic.
Black bees are associated with witchcraft and are a sign of bad news especially if one enters the house.
One last word of advice when it comes to bumblebees, you should never swear at a bumblebee as, not surprisingly, you will drive it away, along with any good fortune that it may bring.
Loose, free, abstract art by Clare
Raindrops on the pond
This July I have managed to make many small changes to benefit my health. I am pleased to say it is working, slowly but surely. I have used my time as an opportunity to purge things that no longer bring me joy, an opportunity to cleanse the old routines that no longer serve me, or at least to take a break. The new moon on July 17th, as with every new moon, is a time for new beginnings, I will continue to make observations in the garden and enjoy the magic that the wildlife and nature has to offer, learning that I have to allow myself time to be still. I have been playing with watercolour which reflects how I am feeling right now, a need to nurture, to enjoy my freedom of expression through art which harmonises my mind, body, heart and soul. I have invested in a plein air kit to enable me to take my art outside, a new experience which I will look forward to sharing with you in my August blog.
As the rain continues to fall why don't you head over to my YouTube channel to take five minutes for yourself. There are no dull adverts to sit through, so grab a cup of tea and sit back uninterrupted for a few minutes of escapism. Don't forget to subscribe to my channel, like and share as this really motivates me to carry on doing what I do. If you want some extra reading material then I can be found on Substack where I will be sharing with you my findings on blue zones and how to reclaim your weekend and why I decided to unplug from social media for the summer. Just search for me by typing in @Purpleladybirdart.
Your support, likes and comments are truly appreciated. You can always email me direct, I will always reply.
Wishing you all a fabulous July.
love & light,
Stay naturally curious...
Bee photograph from UNSPLASH Anja Junghans
A Thousand Mornings - Mary Oliver
RSPB spotlight, Bumblebees by Richard Comont
The Complete Garden Wildlife Book by Mark Golley
Red Sky at Night, the book of lost countryside wisdom by Jane Struthers
My You Tube Channel - https://youtube.com/channel/UCmZAc-9ra7D1I4PFelEzihQ