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)
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!
Friday, 1 November 2013
November was the ninth month of the Roman calendar and takes its name from the latin word 'novem' meaning nine. Anglo-Saxons called this month 'Wind-Monath'- wind month, or ' Blod-Monath'- Blood month, as this was traditionally the month when they slaughtered their cattle.
Traditional days in November.
1st November- All Saints Day, and Calan Gaeaf-Celebrated in Wales as the first day of Winter.
2nd November-All Souls Day.
5th November- Bonfire night.
11th November-Martinmas Day. Armistice Day.
22nd November-St. Cecilia's Day.
30th November-St. Andrews Day.
Folk-sayings about November.
' Wind north-west at Martinmas, severe weather to come'.
'Thunder in November means Winter will be late in coming and going'.
'Frost in November to hold a duck, the rest of the winter is slush and muck'.
A stormy, grey start to the Month. Still many gulls on the fields and now many flocks of redwings have migrated back for the winter. Saw a beautiful peregrine falcon flying up the valley, chased by an irritated flock of pied wagtails. They certainly weren't intimidated by it but perhaps they had safety in numbers! Along the lanes there are still flowers blooming; campions, herb robert and even some stitchwort which brings this country saying to mind;
'Flowers blooming in late Autumn,
A sure sign of a bad Winter coming.'- We will see!
November Sky - Edward Thomas.
November's days are thirty:
November's earth is dirty,
Those thirty days, from first to last;
And the prettiest things on ground are the paths
With morning and evening hobnails dinted,
With foot and wing-tip overprinted
Or separately charactered,
Of little beast and little bird.
The fields are mashed by sheep, the roads
Make the worst going, the best the woods
Where dead leaves upward and downward scatter.
Few care for the mixture of earth and water,
Twig, leaf, flint, thorn,
Straw, feather, all that men scorn,
Pounded up and sodden by flood,
Condemned as mud.
But of all the months when earth is greener
Not one has clean skies that are cleaner.
Clean and clear and sweet and cold,
They shine above the earth so old,
While the after-tempest cloud
Sails over in silence though winds are loud,
Till the full moon in the east
Looks at the planet in the west
And earth is silent as it is black,
Yet not unhappy for its lack.
Up from the dirty earth men stare:
One imagines a refuge there
Above the mud, in the pure bright
Of the cloudless heavenly light:
Another loves earth and November more dearly
Because without them, he sees clearly,
The sky would be nothing more to his eye
Than he, in any case, is to the sky;
He loves even the mud whose dyes
Renounce all brightness to the skies.