Sunday, 5 April 2009

Sumer is icumen in.

Well, I think we can say that the warm (ish) season has definitely arrived. In the hedges here the blackthorn buds are beginning to pop open and the hawthorn leaves are really beginning to show green. As children we used to pick and eat these, calling them "bread-and-cheese". Up on the top behind the farm, where the farmer was digging a hole yesterday (to drain off some trapped water), there were skylarks singing - what a pleasure to have them back as they have been missing for a year or two.
Down here on the farm itself, all the bird boxes seem to have been taken, bar one. We optimistically left that one as a robin box but now realistically think we had better put a blue tit front on it, as it would be so very vulnerable to crow, woodpecker and magpie. Robins, in any case, are very good at choosing unusual places to nest. The year before last one chose to nest on the top of the farmer's bench in the big shed - not as silly a place as you might imagine. First of all - Tip, the border collie, lives in there, so none of the farm cats ever go in. Secondly - if you saw the bench you would realise that it is absolutely covered with tools, tins of nails, rolls of baler band; I would call it an absolute mess but the farmer can always find whatever he wants on there. When he told me there was a nest I went to look - in a sea of rust, brown, nest-coloured in fact, I could not see the nest, which had four babies in it. How did I finally see it? I put a lid of mealworms on the bench, stood back and waited for mother robin to get them. In half an hour they had all disappeared down tiny throats.
Walking round the fields yesterday you could smell the grass beginning to grow and you could smell that other smell of Spring - young nettles. There was a chilly wind blowing but now they have got going chilly winds will not bother the flora around here - if they did then nothing would ever grow to seeding.
I wonder - do townspeople get so excited about Spring coming, or is it a "country thing"? I thought about that on my walk - after all the Japanese almost worship cherry blossom in their town parks. I tried to think of what signs of Spring there would be in a town other than the temperature getting warmer (hopefully). Well - lots of streets have trees, which would come into leaf - and, to me, there is something very exciting about the smell of fresh rain on a hot pavement - it is a smell that can carry a long way on the wind so that you can be warned of rain on the way.
How much more exciting this time of year would have been to our forebears. No central heating, no lighting other than candlepower, no means of drying clothes other than round the fire, no money for vegetables when they were not growing in the garden. Spring and then Summer would have been a time of plenty for country dwellers and the strain of Winter living would be put on the back burner for a while.
And, of course, the poets loved it too. A E Housman's Shropshire Lad - and in particular
"Loveliest of trees, the cherry now" - Robert Browning's Home Thoughts from Abroad - and, not least, "Sumer is icumen in - loude sing Cuckoo." Now that's a thought - who will be the first blogger here in the UK to hear that wonderful sound of Summer - the cuckoo?

36 comments:

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Lovely new header, Weaver!

I think spring is the most ecstatic of seasons and cannot comprehend that anyone wouldn't feel it in the air even if in a city centre.

It's amazing what some folk have done with balconies too. I saw a Gardener's World special (on our Intergalactic viewing box!) recently about a way of growing plants vertically up the sides of buildings. It was partly filmed in Paris and the vast vertical gardens up massive city-centre blocks looked magnificent.

I love the smell of nettles and also fritillaries - that lovely pungent sharp smell.

gleaner said...

Raph, I saw the vertical gardeners in Paris too...they are absolutely fantastic and had me dreaming of doing the same.
Weaver, thanks for dropping by, I have enjoyed many of your past posts but unable to comment till now as I only had anonymous identity. I wanted to add to your post on BB and Shakespeare post..have you read Germaine Greer's "Shakespeare's Wife" as it was a fascinating read.

Crafty Green Poet said...

lovely new header! I think even the most urban of city dwellers can still notice spring coming, the warmer temperature, the gentler air, the scents of flowers in parks and from blossom trees. Edinburgh is a very green city with lots of trees and open spaces, we certainly notice spring here, I think, not just the crafty green poets amongst us.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Nesting is currently or about to be underway here, and I've been building a few nest boxes for small birds. The sycamores along the river almost all have holes and cavities, so we really have a housing glut—but I'm going to put out a few boxes anyway.

Like the new header.

jinksy said...

Certainly, us small town dwellers have lots to show spring is sprung, but I wouldn't like to guess how it is in a big city any more... I heard your skylarks, loud and clear in my head...

acornmoon said...

I haven't heard a cuckoo for ages!

Lovely spring post with wonderful smells.

Jenn Jilks said...

Wonderful post! Snow is melting in My Muskoka. The sun is out. It should be a glorious day here!

Phoenix said...

Lovely... everyone welcomes the spring and summer, albeit the welcomes might differ!

Heather said...

What a beautiful tranquil picture on your new header Weaver. I don't think I will be the one to hear the first cuckoo - I can't remember the last time I did. I used to love hearing skylarks near our previous house, but that was over 25 years ago, and it had a more rural setting. We used to eat 'bread and cheese' as children and I remember one year, over the Easter weekend, a robin built her nest on the running board of my uncle's lorry. He wouldn't use it until her brood had hatched and flown! Only the other day I was thinking of how our forefathers must have greeted the arrival of Spring with such joy and relief. As you say, no central heating or electric light, and probably a rapidly diminishing store of food.

Janice Thomson said...

You are certainly ahead of us in the spring department but there are signs it's here too and the temps are finally going to double digits this coming week. Love the 'smells' of spring!

Sal said...

What a wonderful spring day it is here! I hope it's the same for you?
The last time I saw and heard Skylarks was when I was at Newton Abbot Racecourse, at the Sunday car boot sale.
I stood and listened to them for ages.;-)

Leenie said...

Well, it snowed here Friday. But your blog and others who live at lower alitiudes give me hope. Love your banner photo.

elizabethm said...

Yes spring is here too weaver. I heard a skylark when I was out walking this week and am daily on the look out for swallows. I know it is too early really for us, but I love them so much I start to scan the sky as soon as their is green on the hawthorn hedge.

Mistlethrush said...

Lovely header.
Smelling new growth (and being able to distinguish grass from nettles) has so inspired me. Thanks.

willow said...

Funny, because I just heard a loud cuckoo just a few minutes ago! Rare in my neck of the woods. Your new header picture is, indeed, very lush and springy!

Esther Montgomery said...

Is it the hawthorn or the blackthorn leaves you were eating? Or both? I'm wondering whether to try them.

Esther Montgomery
Esther's Boring Garden Blog

Elizabeth said...

I don't think we have cuckoos in America.
We used to hear the first ones in Essex around my brother's birthday on April 20th.
Let us know when you hear it!

Jane Moxey said...

If anyone wants to know more about cuckoos around the world, then here's a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuckoo
And yes we do have cuckoos in the US:) And who knew that the Roadrunner is a cousin of the cuckoo? I certainly didn't.

Loren said...

Judging from the number of people out walking this sunny weekend here in Tacoma, Washington, I'd have to say that we city folks look forward to it nearly as much as you do.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

It's pretty wonderful here, too. At least it has been....tonight a front is blowing through and snow flurries are expected tomorrow! My birthday is Tuesday, and it's going to be a day out in coats and sweaters, I'm afraid!! Which is okay with me...one more fire in the fireplace!!

Denise Burden said...

Reading your blog over the last few weeks has made me more appreciative of the beauty around me. I am now more aware of, and look out for birds, flowers etc. or whatever subject that you have recently written about. Thanks!
Now for the countryside/town ideas of Spring -
When I was a child, growing up in a city, I used to think that rubber car tyres on the roads sounded differently when Spring was approaching. I don't know if anyone else has ever noticed that or is it just me?

Arija said...

I well remember the wonder of spring from childhood. The fresh greens after potatoes, carrots and wilted apples. We gathered sorrel in the meadows for delicious sorrel soup with potato and to finish it off diced hard boiled egg and sour ream. The cow was in milk, the chooks started laying, the young nettles made marvellous spinach or green soup. There were pickled cucumbers and sourkraut but we were starved for fresh greens, and yet we grew up healthy and strong.

Gramma Ann said...

Hello, Weaver,

I live in a small town and I love spring and all the freshness that it brings.

Also, may I say your header is BEAUTIFUL!! I could spend part of the day there just relaxing and reading a good book, eating a packed lunch and then taking a short afternoon snooozer! and home again.

Leilani Lee said...

Loved the story about the robin. Do you raise the meal worms yourself, or do you buy them? I searched on how to raise them for the birds and discovered an Internet site on raising them for people to eat. No thanks.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Those wonderful gardens Raph - I saw it too - lovely to think that even inner city dwellers love a bit of greenery.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Gleaner - yes I have read it. Nice that you are now up and blogging - good luck with it.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes c.g.p. - Edinburgh is one of the greenest cities I know.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Scribe - you must be surrounded by nesting birds in your lovely cottaghe home.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Jinksy and Acornmoon - you both have vivid imaginations and they seem to be working overtime this spring!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Jenn - snow still melting - I suppose that is probably true of some places in Scotland too.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Love your story about the robin, Heather.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks to all of you - it seems we are all glad to welcome the spring. Glad you like my new header. This garden is open to the public for a short time when the rhodendrons are out - it is so beautiful - I shall try to post some pictures during May.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Regarding meal worms for robins - I buy them from the Pet Shop - I cannot imagine the trauma of breeding them myself!!!

patteran said...

Very sadly, the number of cuckoos joining us seasonally in the UK has dropped 59% since the '60s. And with the opening up of the fields in the service of intensive farming, skylarks are fast disappearing. In the early '70s there were about 4 million. The number is now estimated as below 1 million. For those of us of a certain age, this all gives a particular piquancy to nostalgia.

Woman in a Window said...

Spring, a time of renewel for many. I can only imagine the grace it granted long ago.

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

I'm a little late here, which is illustrated by the preceding 35 comments!!

I think townies probably appreciate Spring every bit as much with the trees, tiny front gardens and window boxes helping to provide much needed colour. But few of us, I think, have our lives so closely governed by the turning of the year as did our antecedents.