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Winter Blues

As I write this I’m huddled over a steaming mug of tea, wearing my warmest jumper and waiting for the forecast sleet to start falling outside. I console myself with the thought that, though it might not feel like it, spring is on the way. It probably hasn’t escaped long-term readers of these blogs that I’m no fan of winter! I’m not always right though— Aristotle said that “To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake it is necessary to stand out in the cold.” And for John Steinbeck “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” Get outdoors and go looking and it won’t take you long to spot the signs of nature coming back to life. The trees are already full of bud and the tips of the first bulbs are poking through the ground, ready to bring us snowdrops and daffodils, with primroses not far behind. Robins and blackbirds are singing already at dawn, eager for the spring to come, and it won’t be long before we start to notice

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Endings and beginnings

Last week we said goodbye to one of our Project Officers, Claire Bailly, who is moving on to a new post in Glasgow working with communities on flood resilience. Claire has been an amazing group leader and will be sadly missed, but I’m sure her new project will soon feel her benefit. There was a record turnout for her final Wild Ways Well session in Cumbernauld Glen as people made a special effort to come along. We built a shelter and had a party, there was cake, muffins and more biscuits than is strictly healthy. We made crepe suzette over the fire, popped popcorn and toasted marshmallows. And of course, since this was forager extraordinaire Claire’s day, we also made some foraged mint and meadowsweet teas! We were joined by Italian volunteer Guido. Guido is visiting Scotland on an exchange programme— our own volunteer Grant will be off to Bulgaria later this year on a similar exchange. Gill, Cumbernauld Living Landscape’s Communications Officer, was also there to lend her expertise to the shelter-building, but in the end her efforts weren’t required.

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Lazy Summer Days

“It’s too hot!”  – the plaintive cry of the average Scotsperson on the first warm day of summer. Never mind all the complaints of cold from the dreich weeks before! Trees have many vital roles, but one of the most important ones for me right now is their undoubted value as a sunshade. There can surely be few more pleasant places to spend the afternoon on a summer’s day than sat beneath the shade of a tall, spreading chestnut or oak. But while we’re all slathering on suncream and dreaming of winter, perhaps we should spare a thought for those creatures for whom the sun’s warmth is vital. The trees – hopefully – will be surrounded by wildflowers, and in amongst the colourful blooms a community of butterflies and bees will be hard at work.     Lazy summer days aren’t an option for your average bumblebee. They must make the most of every warm day, foraging for pollen and nectar to ensure the survival of the next generation. Bumblebees can only fly if their flight muscles are above 30°C, and