The Collector of Lost Things - Plants




"During the afternoon I wandered up the valley, following a brook that bubbled joyously through the rocks. I picked several Arctic buttercups, their yellow petals fresh drips of egg yolk against the darker greens of the sedge and mosses. I identified pink lousewort, dwarf willowherb and Arctic cinquefoil.

But there were many grasses and flowers of a kind I had never seen before, nor could identify in my botanical guide. These were not the soft-petalled flowers of East Anglia, but small robust blooms of mauve, white and yellow, as if they had been dipped in ship’s varnish. The air was cool and fresh and a pale sun shone into the bay across the water. I felt a relief to be alone, away from the ship. But the natural subtlety of these flowers made me homesick, for a softness and peace that I only associated with England – and East Anglia in particular. The lavender light of late summer, whose echo I had occasionally seen along the western Arctic horizon, and the dry flaxen colour of the harvest crops. The estuaries in Suffolk and Norfolk, reflecting a morning sky as pure blue as a goshawk’s egg. The hang of the willows over silent river pools. I missed them deeply.

No other place than East Anglia – where the land is held in a cradle of tides swinging back and forth – can give such a feeling of balance, such equilibrium."


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