The seasons beautys

April so far has been a lovely month, and although there is still a chill in the air, it’s lovely to walk round with bare arms and bare legs and in sandals and shorts. In our little village, the bluebell field is more glorious than ever, I can’t remember seeing it so blue, so very blue, with just a dappling of cowslips and late primroses. My featured photo is from last year, by the way!

It’s poetry month, so more from John Clare’s Shepherd’s Calendar:

The seasons beautys all are thine
That visit with the year
Beautys that poets think divine
And all delight to hear
Thy latter days a pleasure brings
That gladden every heart
Pleasures that come like lovley things
But like to shades depart

Thy opend leaves and ripend buds
The cuckoo makes his choice
And shepherds in thy greening woods
First hears the cheering voice
And to thy ripend blooming bowers
The nightingale belongs
And singing to thy parting hours
Keeps night awake with songs

With thee the swallow dares to come
And primes his sutty wings
And urgd to seek their yearly home
Thy suns the Martin brings
And lovley month be leisure mine
Thy yearly mate to be
Tho may day scenes may brighter shine
Their birth belongs to thee

These immeasurable mountains

It’s poetry month, so let’s enjoy Thomas Wyatt… It is difficult to believe he was born over five hundred years ago, his words are so fresh, his metaphors so vivid, his imagery so startlingly alive

Like to these immeasurable mountains

Like to these immeasurable mountains
Is my painful life, the burden of ire:
For of great height be they and high is my desire,
And I of tears and they be full of fountains.
Under craggy rocks they have full barren plains;
Hard thoughts in me my woeful mind doth tire.
Small fruit and many leaves their tops do attire;
Small effect with great trust in me remains.
The boist’rous winds oft their high boughs do blast;
Hot sighs from me continually be shed.
Cattle in them and in me love is fed.
Immovable am I and they are full steadfast.
Of the restless birds they have the tune and note,
And I always plaints that pass thorough my throat.


At the first sight of spring

Not even halfway through February, but it’s impossible not to look forward to spring time; just occasionally there are lovely bright blue-skyed days and birds are singing in the still naked branches and wheeling and flying. For farmers they are as busy on the land as ever, and they will be super-aware of the birds, even when they are in their big new glossy farm machinery!

The Crow will tumble up and down
At the first sight of spring
And in old trees around the town
Brush winter from its wing
No longer flapping far away
To naked fen they fly,
Chill fare as on a winter’s day,
But field and valley nigh;
Where swains are stirring out to plough
And woods are just at hand,
They seek the upland’s sunny brow
And strut from land to land,
And often flap their sooty wing
And sturt to neighbouring tree,
And seem to try all ways to sing
And almost speak in glee.
The ploughman hears and turns his head
Above to wonder why;
And there a new nest nearly made
Proclaims the winter by.

John Clare


I’m not saying that winter is over, but there is a definite change in the air – it just feels different – even though it was very cold when we sauntered down to the Dolphin for the quiz last night (it felt much warmer on the way back…) it is not just the feeling in the air, as if its quality has changed, but the light is different too. I know we have more of it because the days are longer, but the light has changed; even on a fabulous bright winter day, the light on a fabulous bright spring day has a different feel to it… yes feel, it somehow feels different going into my eyes.

No doubt we will have miserable days, we days, dull days, dire days, but they will be miserable, dull, dire spring days. it was the spring equinox last weekend, we maybe didn’t notice because we were away for the weekend with friends, but on the 21st of March it changed from winter to spring, and today we have every window in the house open!

I didn’t realise that in terms of meteorological, the seasons were measure differently, divided into four equal periods of exactly three calendar months each. This is so forecasting can be easier; the meteorological seasons are:

  • spring – from March 1st to May 31st
  • summer – from June 1st to August 31st
  • autumn – from September 1st to November 30th
  • winter – from December 1st to ending February 28/9th.

I guess most people, however, think of astronomical seasons, measured by the equinoxes and solstices:

  • spring – March equinox to June solstice,
  • summer – June solstice to September equinox,
  • autumn – September equinox to December solstice
  • winter – December solstice to March equinox.

If you live in the southern hemisphere the seasons fall differently and  are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere.

And the difference between solstice and equinox? Both words come from Latin, equinoxium means equality between day and night, and sol stitium means the sun stands still, which is what it appears to do. read about it here:

Both of these terms refer to the path of the Sun throughout the year. The equinox is either of the two days or periods each year when the Sun crosses the equator and day and night are of equal length. The name equinox comes from Latin equinoxium, or ‘equality between day and night’. The vernal (spring) equinox happens around March 20-21 and the autumnal equinox occurs around September 22-23 in the northern hemisphere (and vice-versa in the southern hemisphere). The solstice is one day when the Sun is at its northernmost point (Tropic of Cancer) and another day when the Sun is at its southernmost point (Tropic of Capricorn). The summer solstice in the northern hemisphere (also the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere) happens around June 21-22. The winter solstice in the northern hemisphere (also the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere) occurs around December 22. Latin solstitium translates to ‘Sun standing still’, which is what it appears to do.

Six months ago

Looking down our road, already baking in lovely early morning sunshine, it’s hard to remember that only six months ago it was covered in snow. I hope the fact that we had a cold winter with snow, and now a hot summer with sunshine, signals a return to more distinct seasons. It was so depressing, when for a couple of years  there seemed to be whole years of dreary sameness, miserable, wet dreary winters, and pretty wet, miserable dreary summers. I’m a bit of a child when it comes to snow, I love it, but I do understand that it makes life difficult for some people (although I do think we are too easily panicked into closing schools etc) I like there to be a season which is definitely spring-time, and not just a damp intermission between a slightly colder and slightly warmer time of year. I like autumn to be splendidly clothed in glory, and mysterious fogs to herald winter’s coming. It’s all about balance, a natural balance, and over the last few years, whether there has been long-term climate-change or not, the seasons seem to have been out of balance.

This afternoon, I’m helping at a local fund-raising fête, last year I did the same, and we stood in drizzle, the ink on our notices running, the notices themselves flapping away in the chilly wind, and no-one interested in anything on our stall as everyone wanted to shelter in the tea tent. It will be a different story this afternoon I think!


In Summer Time

When summer time has come, and all
The world is in the magic thrall
Of perfumed airs that lull each sense
To fits of drowsy indolence;
When skies are deepest blue above,
And flow’rs aflush,–then most I love
To start, while early dews are damp,
And wend my way in woodland tramp
Where forests rustle, tree on tree,
And sing their silent songs to me;
Where pathways meet and path ways part,–
To walk with Nature heart by heart,
Till wearied out at last I lie
Where some sweet stream steals singing by
A mossy bank; where violets vie
In color with the summer sky,–
Or take my rod and line and hook,
And wander to some darkling brook,
Where all day long the willows dream,
And idly droop to kiss the stream,
And there to loll from morn till night–
Unheeding nibble, run, or bite–
Just for the joy of being there
And drinking in the summer air,
The summer sounds, and summer sights,
That set a restless mind to rights
When grief and pain and raging doubt
Of men and creeds have worn it out;
The birds’ song and the water’s drone,
The humming bees’ low monotone,
The murmur of the passing breeze,
And all the sounds akin to these,
That make a man in summer time
Feel only fit for rest and rhyme.
Joy springs all radiant in my breast;
Though pauper poor, than king more blest,
The tide beats in my soul so strong
That happiness breaks forth in song,
And rings aloud the welkin blue
With all the songs I ever knew.
O time of rapture! time of song!
How swiftly glide thy days along
Adown the current of the years,
Above the rocks of grief and tears!
‘Tis wealth enough of joy for me
In summer time to simply be.
by Paul Dunbar

Sunny and bright… but snow in Devon!

it is supposed to be midway through spring and on its way to summer… but where for heaven’s sake is the spring weather? Looking out there is blossom on the trees although a lot has blown off in the dreadful bitter winds we’ve had, there is blue sky but the clouds are beginning to turn grey, and the sun has no warmth in it. Our vegetables are beginning to make a showing, but they need sun, they need warmth, they need insects to pollinate them!

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –
   When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
   Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
   The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
   The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?
   A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,
   Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
   Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.
by Gerard Manley Hopkins