In 1906 Edith Holden started a Diary, now known as ‘The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady’. In it, she observed Natures cycle through the months of the year, writing simply about the weather, the birds, the flowers and the natural world around her. All the pages are beautifully ornamented with her original artwork and favourite poems. In this Blog, I’m going to try to emulate her Diary in a modern way. For a start, this is a blog on a computer, not pen and ink lovingly written on paper! However, I hope that the end result will have some similarities, in that I want to capture day by day, month by month the steady rhythm of Nature through the year. For although our 21st century lives are hectic, chaotic, noisy and deafened by electronics, the beat of the natural world, which is the backdrop to all our lives whether we notice it or not, remains ever the same. So take a sedate, gentle and steady-paced journey with me through the next year, observing the natural world. Our way of life may have changed almost beyond recognition since 1906, but nature is doing what it always has done, the cycle of nature remains constant and reassuringly predictable. In that respect, nothing has changed. ‘ No Winter lasts forever; no Spring skips its turn.’ (Hal Borland)
Tuesday, 31 December 2013
Monday, 23 December 2013
December's been very mild so far, but the last few days have been incredibly stormy, with lashing rain and gales.
The river is very high and the flocks of swans, the goosanders and the mallards have all abandoned its fast flowing , muddy waters for calmer waters elsewhere, probably the reservoir at Llandegfedd. The Olway brook too is in flood, and similarly abandoned, though the overflowing waters have provided ponds in the fields that have attracted flocks of gulls. Most birds are grounded today though the high winds make flight very difficult! Along the brook, many trees and branches of the willows especially, have come down, revealing nests and honeycombs in their hollows from the Summer, and with their branches huge bunches of mistletoe are strewn on the banks. The hedgerows though are full of large flocks of thrushes, this year the Mistle thrush seems to have thrived, and they are now joined by their Winter cousins the fieldfares. The Robin in my garden has been singing a beautiful winter song all day, every day for the past few weeks, and although it s melodious notes started early this morning, it's now gone deep into the hedge to find shelter from the storm, no doubt as soon as the storm passes, it will be back out valiantly singing again!
Solstice Song.-K. Craigen.
Turn from the darkness
Step in to the light,
Burn the Yule Logs,
on this long Solstice night.
The Earths balance shifts
And we turn to the sun,
The journey to Spring
Has once more begun.
The Dormouse dreams on,
The Robin and Thrush sing their mid-Winter song,
That tells of the light
And the warmth it will bring,
The eggs in their nests,
And the flowers of Spring.
Say Goodbye to the darkness,
This Mid- Winter night,
The Earth beats a rhythm,
Dance in to the light.
Sunday, 1 December 2013
Traditional days in December.
6th December- St Nicholas's Day.
21st December- Winter Solstice.
25th December- Christmas Day.
26th December-St Stephens' Day.
29th December- St. Thomas's Day.
31st December-New Years Eve.
Folklore sayings about December.
' If the sun shines through the apple trees upon a Christmas day,
When Autumn comes they will a load of fruit display'.
'Snow on Christmas means Easter will be green'.
'A mild December precedes a cold snap later in the Winter'.
"In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne'er remember
Their green felicity:
The north cannot undo them
With a sleety whistle through them;
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.
In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy brook,
Thy bubblings ne'er remember
Apollo's summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
About the frozen time.
Ah! would 'twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy!
But were there ever any
Writhed not at passed joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it
Nor numbed sense to steel it,
Was never said in rhyme."
A mild, grey start to the month. On the river there were several families of swans, white parents with their large but still grey-feathered young enjoying the calm and mild waters. The river is fairly low at the moment as November was a dry month. Only a couple of weeks until the year turns around again and the nights start to get lighter!
Talking in their Sleep- Edith.M. Thomas.
“You think I am dead,”
The apple tree said,
“Because I have never a leaf to show—
Because I stoop,
And my branches droop,
And the dull gray mosses over me grow!
But I’m still alive in trunk and shoot;
The buds of next May
I fold away—
But I pity the withered grass at my root.”
“You think I am dead,”
The quick grass said,
“Because I have parted with stem and blade!
But under the ground
I am safe and sound
With the snow’s thick blanket over me laid.
I’m all alive, and ready to shoot,
Should the spring of the year
Come dancing here—
But I pity the flower without branch or root.”
“You think I am dead,”
A soft voice said,
“Because not a branch or root I own.
I never have died,
But close I hide
In a plumy seed that the wind has sown.
Patient I wait through the long winter hours;
You will see me again—
I shall laugh at you then,
Out of the eyes of a hundred flowers.”
Thursday, 21 November 2013
The weather has turned much colder in the last few days, and the icy blasts have brought the Fieldfares with them, another winter migrant to join the Redwings in the fields and hedges. Large flocks of them were gathered in the trees along the Olway Brook, and the food is plentiful for them. There is a glut of berries of every kind for them this year, the Spindle berries are particularly vivid in the hedges.
There is some lovely late Autumn sunshine at the moment though, which bathes the countryside in a beautiful clear golden light, illuminating the lovely colours of the dying leaves which are very rapidly falling now. Saw several Jays this morning along the lanes screeching in their harsh voices, they tend to stay deep in the woods through Spring and Summer, but venture out into the open in the Winter, and also a couple of pretty coal tits have returned to feed in the garden again, they also stay away in the summer months and return when it gets cold.
To my surprise I saw another dormouse today when I peered into a round nest in the hedge which has now become exposed with the dying back of the leaves. I wasn't expecting anything to be in there, but a pretty golden dormouse was in it. Perhaps they've had a successful year too as it's quite unusual to see them this easily in the wild and this is the second I've seen in a matter of weeks- very lucky!
Autumn Birds-John Clare.
The wild duck startles like a sudden thought,
And heron slow as if it might be caught.
The flopping crows on weary wings go by
And grey beard jackdaws noising as they fly.
The crowds of starnels whizz and hurry by,
And darken like a clod the evening sky.
The larks like thunder rise and suthy round,
Then drop and nestle in the stubble ground.
The wild swan hurries hight and noises loud
With white neck peering to the evening clowd.
The weary rooks to distant woods are gone.
With lengths of tail the magpie winnows on
To neighbouring tree, and leaves the distant crow
While small birds nestle in the edge below.
Tuesday, 12 November 2013
A Beautiful Autumn day today, respite from the grey, damp and sullen skies of late. In the woods the leaves in the breeze were falling like raindrops, there's some very vivid colours now, but at the rate they were falling today it won't be long before the branches are bare again. A few squirrels were clambering along the tree tops, making the most of a sunny day to hoard more nuts and acorns for the Winter.There is a wealth of wild fruits this year, the yew tree in the churchyard is bursting with red berries that the blackbirds and thrushes in particular, love to feast on.
Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them --
The summer flowers depart --
Sit still -- as all transform'd to stone,
Except your musing heart.
How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.
Thursday, 7 November 2013
It's been a very wet and windy start to the month interrupted by a couple of calmer sunny days, today being one of them. The trees and hedgerows are really showing their autumnal colours now, the bracken turning a burnished copper and the sycamore and maple particularly, vivid yellows and orange. Large flocks of redwings have re-appeared in the fields and hedges and will probably soon be joined by other Winter migrants.
Walking along the lanes today, was very lucky to spot a beautiful, fluffy, golden doormouse foraging in the leaf litter. It scampered away up the bank, disappearing into the hollow behind some roots- what a beautiful little creature!
Autumn Fires- Robert Louis Stevenson.
In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The gray smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!