Snowdrop

An extract from
Herbacoues 
by Paul Evans, published by Little Toller Books
White. p.33 - p.34
Yew in fog on Wenlock Edge  photograph by Maria Nunzia @Varvera

The eye is drawn to white from far off, a dinner-plate-sized clump on a bend in the brook . Whiter than swans on the river; whiter than snow on the Stiperstones;  whiter than lines on the road or polypropylene sacks of asbestos fly-tipped in the wood - there is something both vestal and venal about snowdrops. Flowering moon-white for the purity of milk in time for Candlemas and Imbolc, these were not planted by anyone but washed down in a flood years ago. Bulbous with religious symbolism and feelings for the coming spring, snowdrops also have a stubborn streak. There is something belligerent in their timing. There is joy in the reassurance of snowdrops for a world which has lost so many seasonal signatures but there is also something mechanically insistent, perfunctory and routine which corrupts their beauty, too. Looking closely at the flowers, perhaps it’s the vividness of green dots and dashes in them which transcends both vestal and venal to become vernal. Too much whiteness blinds and I almost miss the black backpack lying next to the snowdrops by the brook. Inside it is a mess of damp clothes, a little purse of small change and a couple of bank cards. The bag feels heavy with stories, secrets, worries: how it got there, who it belongs to, what to do with it. As I climb up the bank from the brook, holding the bag, my eye is drawn back through all the winter-washed brown-green-greys, back to the patch of white. It’s a colour as shrill as th cry the tawny owl makes cornered by jays. Whatever strange or sinister thing happened here, the snowdrops remain implacable.

 

 

 

© Photographs by Maria Nunzia @Varvera 

© Paul Evans @DrPaulEvans1 

 

NB photographs do not appear in the book.

Herbaceous illustrated by Kurt Jackson 

 

Available from Little Toller Books