Cornwall Cogitation O-P

Post 15/2022 Friday 8 April . . . World attention and response continues to focus on the suffering, death and devastation inflicted by the unprovoked war in Ukraine. How does one come to terms with its gravity? Certainly, many people have responded in positive ways, help coming from individuals, families, communities, organizations, nations. I’ve also read accounts about keeping a sense of humor, being happy, in the middle of it all.

Emma Beddington, in a column, Up front, with the headline, “I’m full of the joys of spring–but it’s tinged with sadness,” in The Observer Magazine (March 20), in concluding paragraphs wrote, “I’m happy, I suppose. I didn’t imagine happiness could be so easy and so close: a furred magnolia bud and a song at dusk between the MOT garage and the Spar. I hope it’s OK to say that. It’s hard to know what to do with happiness at the moment when spring is unfurling east of here, too–flowers blooming, lambs being born–and two million people are missing their bulbs coming up, or the tree they like down the street blossoming. When it’s the backdrop to outrageous suffering.

“Poetry sometimes helps: William Carlos William’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus is good on that dissonance of pain while the world goes about its perennial business. It was spring, it goes, ‘the whole pageantry of the year awake tingling with itself’.

“But I don’t believe happiness makes you indifferent. It makes you aware of what it might be to lose a home, birdsong, the simple animal joy of being alive. Spring.” Thank you, Emma Beddington.


O: Old Man’s Beard. Definition (1) directs the reader to a separate entry: “Traveller’s Joy (Ranunculaceae: Clematis vitalba), also known as Old Man’s Beard from its massed feathery fruits, is a woody climber related to the garden clematises; locally frequent on calcareous soils in the south.” Definition (2) “A group of lichens . . . growing in long branched tufts on trees and rocks.”

I can imagine the hilarity of picking “feathery fruits” from my beard, maybe even guffaw at growing a beard long enough to resemble a group of dangling long branched lichens. Ha ha ha!

An Old Man’s Beard photo from the internet.

As a reminder, I’m using successive letters from the English-language alphabet to count down the winter/spring period we’re spending in Duchy Cornwall, UK. I aim to select at least one letter each week from The Penguin Dictionary of British Natural History, by Richard Fitter, assisted by Maise Fitter (Allen Lane, 1967, 1978), and a second letter usually on another topic.

From The Scope of the Book: “In this dictionary of the natural history of the British Isles the term ‘natural history’ is interpreted in the broadest sense to include all living things and natural phenomena of the earth and its atmosphere.”

Cornwall is at the farthest south west point of England, itself almost an island surrounded 80 percent by the sea. We are in Penwith district, the small toe-like sliver jutting out into the confluence of the North Atlantic and English Channel.

All Saints Walking Group

Fellowship walks organized by the Benefice of St Anta and St Uny take place on the first Sunday of each month. Walkers spend 2-3 hours covering a distance of 4 miles. Each walk begins with a prayer and includes a reflection inspired by the route taken, the views, and season. On April 3 we walked from the Gwithian Parish Church to the National Trust area around Godrevy. Gorgeous weather in a week that included high winds and showers.

Participants in the April 3 walk gather at Gwithian Parish Church.
Someone used a rake to create a Celtic Knot in the sands off Magow Rocks.
Mutton Cove, where seals claim the sand and sea.
Godrevy Island and Lighthouse.
The National Trust’s investment in the Godrevy area, as elsewhere, aims to make a huge difference in sustainable well-being for people and the environment.

The letter P

P: Penzance. One could walk along the sidewalk next to the busy, busy highway from Carbis Bay to Penzance, about 12 miles, but that would be too unsettlingly noisy. Best to go by bus or train. As of Sunday 10 April, bus fares throughout Cornwall are dropping about 40 percent, making that option much more attractive to a host of people, what with fuel prices averaging 1.63 GBP per litre in March.

Freighter in Mounts Bay, Penzance. On Thursday, we visited neighboring Newlyn for lunch and a visit to the Penlee House Gallery and Museum.

Why go to Penzance? It’s a transportation hub for bus and train (including the ferry to the Isles of Scilly) and walks–in one direction to St Michael’s Mount and the other on the promenade to the fishing port of Newlyn and onward on the South West Coast Path to Mousehole (M-ow-zel).

One might think of The Pirates of Penzance in relation to the seaside town. Wikipedia notes: “Penzance is the base of the pirates in Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera The Pirates of Penzance. At the time the libretto was written, 1879, Penzance had become popular as a resort town, so the idea of it being overrun by pirates was amusing to contemporaries.”

Sights of spring in Carbis Bay

Blackthorn, as it bloomed this week in the hedge behind our rental chalet. “A very thorny deciduous shrub, forming dense thickets; widespread and common; flowers white, appearing before the leaves in spring.” British Natural History, 1978.


Spring buds, blooms, blazes in God’s creation glory, with the unspoken nudge for people to renew, thrive and flourish, and in these days of multiple crises to do and be what we can be and do for others and the whole wide world.


10 thoughts on “Cornwall Cogitation O-P

  1. “–and two million people are missing their bulbs coming up,
    or the tree they like down the street blossoming.”
    Heart rending – thank you for expanding our connection to the suffering


  2. Very interesting John. Ran across your blog and thought I would view this post. Although we are sad for Ukraine we must find happiness and joy in our lives. I constantly think of Ukraine and feel such despair for their country. From America in the state of Arkansas I say hello John.


    1. Thank you, Peggy. Your thoughts join those of many around the world for the people of Ukraine and other areas of need, and make all the difference. Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy Palm Sunday! I liked the Celtic Knot on the beach!


    May the God of Wonder be with you, delighting you with the beauty of sunrise and the majesty of sunset, with the song of the bird and the fragrance of the flower. —Maxine Shonk, OP



  4. The Celtic knot in the sand was very clever. Your spring flowers are in full bloom. Still waiting here for signs of spring flowers, the buds peeping out of the ground ever so slowly. There is hope.


  5. I too enjoyed the Celtic knot in the sand as well as the spring blossoms. I’m grateful for the reminder to hold in my heart all those refugees who are missing spring in their own homes and landscape.


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