RICHARD WILLIAMSON Nature Trails...The queen visits the cherry blossom, and all is well...

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The inscrutable face of the pansy was one of my childhood delights. Then came a time when I learnt you couldn’t use the name without a smirk from your scrutable chums. Now that has thankfully passed.

The flower has power to attract. Not just silly humans with their teasing times but insects who have little time to fool. Their’s is a deadly serious time of survival.

There were pansies in every cottage garden once. Hardy, undemanding and with that attractive Asian face that seemed to focus knowledge and experience into its divine central being.

The eastern face learns and acquires, has known hardship and how to cope with adversity and has little time to dally insensibly.

It stores its core potential and the insect knows it shall be rewarded.

So the old queen, and here I speak of bumblebees, goes straight to the central repository of wealth and taking her due, enriches her dependants, her brood. I used to watch her in childhood and I watch her now.

She is actually a slave to the state. Without her there would not be other workers wanting to go forth and forage, for the benefit of us silly old humans.

When she has finished with the pansies, she will travel across the land to the oil seed rape, the apple orchards, the plums and the pears and the tomatoes.

We watch her among the cherry blossom in the streets of the towns and are glad that she is giving all a little touch of happiness in the light.

Her visit there among the blossoms tells us all is well with the world, that it is sane enough and there will be food and a sense of purpose too, since colour and beauty are as essential almost as much as sustenance.

As she gets older, the old queen has to work harder because she may suffer accidents and damage. Purple orchids stick pouches of pollinia on her head which look like heavy crowns, and which burden her down. Tiny mites all with their own desire to lead important little lives trouble her as parasites.

Her flying mileages increase. For instance, she may have to fly a mile out to a crop and a mile home again. Her wings become frayed.

I used to watch all of this as a child in my mother’s garden. Often times I would see many other insects coming into the pansies to feed.

In my other picture here I photographed once a butterfly called grizzled skipper which was nectaring on the pansies in the garden. They are like courtiers to the queen: the many small wild bees and wasps which are all part of the panoply of life in the country.