#365daysofbiking Canal dreams
August 28th – Back to work and still grey, but feeling better. On the canal at Darlaston the greenery is still uplifting, and we may get an Indian summer after all. Perhaps.
The water lilies are still showing well too, which is always a lovely thing to see. Still can’t quite get over the fact that we have them here.
May 29th – The season is moving along so quickly now. All along the canals of Walsall the waterlilies are bursting into bloom. These large-leaved water plants spread from floating rhizomes in the spring, and have the most gorgeous yellow flowers that bugs seem to love.
There is a later strain that have white or pink, more ornate blooms. that won’t be far behind.
We never had this kind of beauty on the canals when I was a child. I still find it amazing.
April 10th – This looks like some pretty revolting flotsam and jetsam, but it’s actually an important and encouraging sign of spring.
These knobbly, odd looking root growths are the rhizomes of the water lilies so common here on the local canals in high summer, and this is the first stage of their… seasonal deployment.
When the season ends, water lilies decay, and the stalk and root mass they grow from sinks to the canal bottom where the excess growth rots off and the stalks over winter in the mud where the water stays warmer, fragmenting as they do so.
When the waters warm in spring, renewed cell growth in the fragmented stocks gives buoyancy once more and they rise to the surface, moving freely in the wind currents and boat wash.
In time, new growth will sprout and they anchor, growing the familiar leaves and flowers we know so well.
It’s a wonderful, and very successful natural mechanism, and a sign of an oncoming summer…
June 26th – the weather was grey and overcast on the way home and it had been raining, but I managed to just miss the showers. At Walsall Wood, momma mallard was inexplicably stewarding her new brood through a clump of water lilies.
The ducklings, confused, were endlessly entertaining as they tried to stand on the foliage and invariably failed. Their mother seemed to be enjoying the spectacle and there seemed to be plenty of food in the clump too.
A lovely entertaining thing to see – and those waterlines are gorgeous.
June 21st – Another high summer day, the longest as it happens, and from here on in, the days shorten to darkness; but there’s plenty of summer left and it’s been glorious so far, so I’m not too sad.
On the Walsall Canal heading for Darlaston, life is busy hunting, blooming and multiplying, with herons hunting on the far bank, families of geese making their way through dense waterlily beds and flowers looking gorgeous in the hot sun.
A Walsall Top Lock, basking on a piece of drifting wood, I even saw a terrapin, about the size of a saucer. Sadly, it slipped away before I got the camera out but these poor creatures, often released into the wild when too large for captivity are becoming a common sight in canals and pools of the UK.
A great day to be on a bike in the place I love.
August 27th – As I travelled home along the canal, I listened to the rain singing on the water, and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Near the western side of the Watermead Estate, I came upon the swan family, still at a huge nine, still growing.
They were clearly feeling a bit chippy as momma swan took exception to my footwear and pecked at my feet continually, and the offspring seemed to be quite tetchy as well.
These gorgeous, truculent birds remain beautiful, and their antics made the afternoon, really, as did the canalside life and noting that the Canal and River Trust cleanup crew – usually mostly volunteer staffed – had been out doing their thing.