The Nature Bible

Living Planet

Nature · Earth · Climate

Nature Notes: December 2020





"Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better" ~ Albert Einstein


Clear skies and a sprinkling of frost transform our world this month, highlighting and sharpening in crusted crystal, shapes around us that we wouldn't normally notice, whilst warmer winds blanket familiar landmarks, such as the curves of pathways, in carpets of leaves. Striking, beautiful and remarkable, natures infinite patterns and colours make up the very essence of our Slinfold home. At night, all may seem still, dark and silent, but these forms have a language all of their own; the moving arcs of the Geminids meteor shower on the 13th and 14th, to full spirals of stars and galaxies; the half-moon on the winters solstice (21st) moving the pendulum swing to reach out and pull in more light to widen dawn and dusk. And Decembers perfectly round, Full Cold Moon on the 30th, the highest and brightest finale of the year.



Curves, circles, spirals, strips, stripes, dots, cubes, cones and waves emerge in endless varieties in plants and foliage, insects, birds and animals that are usually more apparent throughout the year, but they are there this month if you know where to look. For example, 'Fractals' - or dividing patterns that repeat themselves at different scales, can now be easily seen at the ends of stark branches which reflect the overall shape of their trees. In the woodlands, wafted by breezes sweet and winey with decaying leaves, a latticework of burnished copper fronds mimic the outlines of the whole bracken plants to which they're attached.



The cracks along tree bark occur to relieve stress and each species of tree has its own design. A warming sun on a mild November day, revealed beads of shiny red, scurrying in and out of the tactile ridges of an oak. In the space of my handprint I spy a 2 Spot, a 10 spot, a Kidney Spot and a Harlequin, just four of the 47 ladybird species in the UK.


Yellow leaves like snatched smiles of sunshine float on rivers like stars during the day. In landforms naked of their usual coverings, the hollow of a hill, intertwining tree roots, the tops of bare trees over a path forming a cathedral-like dome, frost tinged rinds of leaves, are all unique sculptures. Star shaped poppy seed heads left by kind gardeners for overwintering insects, perhaps touched by 'drifting' stars of water vapour freezing in the form of snowflakes - each with a six-fold hexagonal symmetry but with an infinite, individual identity within. Spiky teazels catch frozen spiders' webs, whilst the rippling white gills of mushroom and fungi, fan fragile beauty on the ground amongst skeletal leaves.



The swirl of a snail shell lies on the round rings of a tree trunk, ripples created by the wind reach out from over-spilling rivers leaving wavey tide marks in chunky brown ribbons on smoothed out soil. The satisfying crunch of acorns underfoot is replaced by the crackle of breaking frosted puddles, lying embedded in the hardened earth, transformed by cloudy white swirls as if cream in a coffee. Smaller ones were hollowed earlier in the autumn by the hooves of horses and many 'covid exercise' feet that had sunk several inches into the then soft soil.



On the days when the surface no longer glitters, when the morning light struggles through the murky cloud, the winter landscape inhales deeply beneath heaven's eiderdown. Within this sacred geometry, the sparkles remain within and as the last wistful dance of a soft chocolate-brown leaf hits the earth, the gold shines through. The red round feather ball of a robin continues to sing, of spring, of hope and 'the shape' of things to come ...



Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and of new, exciting and varied landmarks in your year ahead.