As I walked out on the last day of the year, I noticed the hazel bushes. Some were already shaking their tails, but others were still not quite ready to open up, biding their time.
This was plucked from a bush beside a ditch – a running ditch after all the recent rain. The vase came from a ditch as well, one running beside a windmill next to a canal in Belgium where we had a cycling holiday on February. It reminds me of Victorian school ink bottles, but since the top is broken, all we know is that the miller cast it in the ditch, to be treasured many years later by a family of foreigners. It suits a single stem very well.
The old road passes along the top of Tankerton slope after running inland to skirt the Marshes. The sea wall with its promenade protects the slope from crumbling into the waters, and apart from rough grass there are green plants and bushes all the way. One rarity is hog’s fennel, which when we visited with Abel had filled a patch of land with mounds of lacy, dark green leaf. We got up close when chasing after an upwardly mobile toddler.
It is good to know that something so beautiful is being watched over, conserved.
Looking after one small corner of our shared home is a step towards saving the planet, so thanks are due to those looking after the slopes.
Even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these, (Matthew 6: 29) though I can imagine William Morris enjoying the challenge of translating this into a textile design!
The Holy of Holies refers of course to the innermost chamber of the Temple in Jerusalem – and before that in the tent that went through the desert with the Israelites. Blake reminded us that God is present in a grain of sand; here is Chesterton meeting him on a Spring morning. These cowslips are growing in pastureland, where sheep will safely graze later in the year. We were told that the farmer seeded the field with wild flowers. Thank you to him!
‘Elder father, though thine eyes Shine with hoary mysteries, Canst thou tell what in the heart Of a cowslip blossom lies?’
‘Smaller than all lives that be, Secret as the deepest sea, Stands a little house of seeds, Like an elfin’s granary,
‘Speller of the stones and weeds, Skilled in Nature’s crafts and creeds, Tell me what is in the heart Of the smallest of the seeds.’
‘God Almighty, and with Him Cherubim and Seraphim, Filling all eternity— Adonai Elohim.’
Some lover of nature, humanity, God or all three has set a clump of snowdrops between the fast Eurostar line to France and the old mainline from Ashford to Folkestone. Just a glimpse as we speed by, most will not notice, I too often miss them – but there they are, and beautiful they are, even from a distance. A promise that will be kept.
These, with their rubbish, were at Aylesham station, not far away.
The scattering of white feathers showed where a black-headed gull had been killed; the corpse lay a couple of feet away, the breast picked almost clean by the second bird, the sparrowhawk who has become quite familiar in this part of town. Satisfied with its meal, it had flown away already.
The third bird was totally unconcerned by this drama, and a real surprise on Abbot’s Hill. Sitting on a stump nearby: a smart, robin-like creature which was indeed a stonechat. I don’t recall seeing one locally before but he was singing as if he owned the place and had no intention of going west to the old brown hills. I feel sure he will though.
It’s a warm wind, the west wind, full of birds’ cries; I never hear the west wind but tears are in my eyes. For it comes from the west lands, the old brown hills. And April’s in the west wind, and daffodils.
Walking up to Church this morning we saw the first tips of pussy willow and of course the hazel was bright in the hedgerow, lambs’ tails shaking themselves out before the real lambs are allowed in the fresh air – but that won’t be long now!
As Father Boniface pronounced, basking in the sun, ‘I think we can say that Spring is here! They’re silent now – it was 11.30 – but this morning they were in full throat!’
I’ve not heard that expression for a while. Enjoy the Spring!
I probably should not take my mobile phone to church on a Sunday, though 90% of the time I remember to silence it – and then forget to turn the rings on again afterwards, so receive no messages.
However, the gadget serves to record, once in a while, the glories of what I might otherwise miss. This third-rate photo just gives the impression of scarlet pimpernel and purple grass heads taking over some bare soil at the top of the hill. Almost an abstract.
Lovely enough to say, ‘Good Morning Life, and all things glad and beautiful.’ (WH Davies).
Next day, somewhat dispiritedly riding home in the rain, I spotted maybe a hundred starlings, adults and juveniles, enjoying the downpour because it was bringing worms and leatherjackets to the surface of the park. Would I have noticed them if they’d been quiet? Maybe not, but they are incapable of staying quiet! ‘Good Morning Life, and all things glad and beautiful.’