Sun in the hellebores, and a forget-me-not sky. Not a cloud in sight, only a passing aircraft unzipping the blue. And, for heaven’s sake, it was warm enough to sit outside for morning coffee; nor did we need coats when we walked into town at lunch time. Along the verges the celandines were as wide as wide; birds twittering; butterflies flitting. In the Cutlins field we found there had been a multiplication of highland cattle: parents and calf have joined the three teens. They were all quietly grazing and munching out in the sun. At the foot of the path by the priory ruins the air was drenched with mahonia scent, and around the town there was a dreamy sense of the world just waking up, tree buds swelling and crocus out on parade.
But then as the countryman poet John Clare warns, February can be a treacherous month. Out of the blue comes blissful weather and everyone is out and about and thinking of summer. And then…and then…
Here’s an extract from the poem, for though rather florid for my taste it captures the day so perfectly, and tonight there may indeed be frost:
The sunbeams on the hedges lie,
The south wind murmurs summer-soft;
The maids hang out white clothes to dry
Around the elder-skirted croft:
A calm of pleasure listens round,
And almost whispers winter by;
While Fancy dreams of summer’s sound,
And quiet rapture fills the eye.
Thus Nature of the spring will dream
While south winds thaw; but soon again
Frost breathes upon the stiffening stream,
And numbs it into ice: the plain
Soon wears its mourning garb of white;
And icicles, that fret at noon,
Will eke their icy tails at night
Beneath the chilly stars and moon.
Excerpt of February from The Shepherd’s Calendar by John Clare (1793-1864)
So as I said to Graham as we drowsed happily on the garden bench, staring at the cloudless sky, coffee mugs in hand: better soak up the bliss while we can then. Carpe diem, says Graham.
And I suppose now I’ve mentioned the Highland calf I’d better show him to you, not at all close up, but the sun on his nose and hints of green in the willow behind:
copyright 2019 Tish Farrell
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