The margins of the fields are tall and rich; the Raveningham Estate does such things properly. I rode past these tangled banks at a brisk canter: a couple of miles of wildness that flaunted and concealed at the same time.
The vegetation concealed pheasants and hares and deer, all of which like to pop out at odd moments to see if they can make my horse spook. And it absolutely grandstanded the flowers. My botanical skills aren’t that great, even at a walk, but I reckoned these were oxeye daisies and birdsfoot trefoil.
I could never work out what these cheery yellow flowers had to do with birds’ feet, so I looked them up and it’s because they don’t. It’s the seedpods that look like claws, or birds’ feet, or like grandmother’s toenails, in one rather uncomfortable local name.
Well, I think they were oxeyes. But why the eyes of oxen? For their largeness ands brightness, perhaps. Homer almost invariably referred to the queen of heaven as “Oxeyed Hera”, and it was a compliment.
Why daisy, for that matter? That’s easy: the day’s eye: that’s the sun of course. The eye of heaven, in Shakespeare. And certainly, daisies of all kinds are little suns fallen to earth.
So what, I hear you ask, is the name of the sun in the Malay language? Clue: it translates literally as “the eye of the day”. And it’s mata hari. This was of course the stage name of the exotic dancer who was executed as a spy in 1917, and whose last gesture was to blow a kiss at the firing squad.
Perhaps I’ll become a botanist, if only for the names and the back-story. And a canter along a long mile and more of birds’ feet and fallen suns made me feel gratifyingly wild.
Here’s Eddie’s blog: 30 days6 2017