Apr 052017
 

Welcome to the world of one-place studies! Twenty-six of our members are sharing something in their particular place for this year's A-Z Blogging Challenge. Today, get back to nature in Janet Barrie's place of Springhill in Lancashire.

In my place there are daffodils, daisies and dandelions.

In addition to community and local history I am also undertaking a study of the natural history of my place. This is at a very basic level and the species list is very incomplete, but it has led to some interesting parallels between the natural and man-made histories and how these two overlap.

So in my place there are daffodils. Planted deliberately on the verge of the lane, they join the crocus in bringing colour and spring cheer, marking the passing of winter. Similarly there are features of the community history which are deliberate and positive: houses, the church, pub, shop, Mechanics Institutes e.t.c., and their legacies. These can form fruitful topics of study of our places. For example, how did electricity, or the telephone come to your place and what was its impact?

There are also daisies. These have not been put there deliberately but are often regarded with affection, triggering memories of daisy chains and picnics. What community institutions or events are there which are perhaps unplanned but nevertheless viewed affectionately? One such local story is that of the Zeppelin aircraft which followed the wrong railway line and instead of bombing Manchester dropped a few devices in rural East Lancashire. None of these exploded and the sum of the fatalities was one song thrush, whose stuffed carcass is recognised by the Imperial War Museum as a war memorial.

Then there are dandelions. Regularly regarded as weeds, they are robust and persistent, defying all attempts to remove them. There are many such aspects to our places, again worthy of study. Why is anti-social behaviour prevalent in some areas but not others? But there is another side to dandelions. They provide early pollen for bees, and their spread has been helped by generations of children blowing the clocks. He 'loves me, he loves me not'; the great final breath to ensure it finished on 'he loves me'... but he never did, of course.

Weed or bee food, there are many things in our places which result in mixed opinions. What was the public reaction to that new factory which destroyed a landmark or field but which brought jobs? To the conversion of that ruin on the hill into a des res? To the reconfiguration of local government or public services which brought decision making nearer to or further from the residents?

Daffodils, daisies and dandelions. Things exist in or happen in our places for a variety of reasons and can be viewed in different ways. How we view them frames the questions we ask, and the research we undertake.

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