Thursday, 3 September 2009

Today is the seventieth anniversary of the start of the Second World War for us here in the UK and I can't let the occasion pass without a mention. I was a very small girl but I remember that day vividly, as though it were yesterday. My brother, who was already in the Territorial Army, had been called up several days beforehand. My mother, father and I sat in our living room round our "wireless" (I can see it still - it was a brown bakelite one with a rounded top) and listened to Neville Chamberlaine at eleven o'clock telling us that we were at war with Germany. I was too young to notice the effect this had on my parents (who would well-remember the First World War) but I remember going to the gate and standing there. I remember a warm, still, beautiful Autumn day and in my memory the whole of our little village stood at their gates and time stood still. It stays in my memory like a tableau.

Now to today's post. Somebody in my blog list suggested that we choose a book, turn to page 161 and put the fifth sentence on our blog. Titus had invited them to do this and they were inviting everyone else who wished to participate. When I find out who it was I will acknowledge them but - sorry - we are so busy building here that I can't remember. (Don't anyone dare think it is a sign of my age!!!)

By my chair in the kitchen I have a bookshelf which holds all the books I like to dip into. I closed my eyes, ran my hand along the shelf and picked one out - and I must say it is a treasure. Have you heard of that glorious English eccentric, Roger Deakin? I have two of his books which I dip into daily. One is called "Waterlog", in which he sets out from his moat round his house in Suffolk (and that is another story) and swims through the British Isles. But the book I pulled out was "Wildwood A Journey through Trees". Deakin thought that a writer had to have a strong passion in order to change things and this book was his attempt to get us to see trees as individuals rather than collectively as "trees".

Page 161, sentence five reads:- "We sit and talk of beavers and their natural sculptures of chewed cottonwood stumps outside Chicage, and the rhomboid of seven rows of seven white Himalayan birches Nash planted seven feet apart just down the hill, hoping they would grow precisely forty-nine feet high."

I do urge you to read Roger Deakin in you haven't already done so. Throughout my life I have "collected" eccentrics (you always come across them in the teaching profession and they are almost always inspirational teachers).

Deakin died of a brain tumour in August 2006 very shortly after completing this book. Ronald Blythe, another eccentric and a wonderful writer about nature, was a personal friend and writes in his River Diary about sitting at Deakin's deathbed and reading to him as he lay dying. He chose to read "The Nightingale's Nest" by John Clare - a poet they both loved. This was the poem which Ted Hughes read in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey when the Clare Memorial was unveiled. He says that even as he lay dying Deakin listened carefully to the poem just as carefully as he and Blythe had listened for the nightingales at Tiger Hill in the past.

These writers of Nature have given me such pleasure over the years. If you haven't read Clare's poem, I do urge you to read that too - and enjoy!

31 comments:

Totalfeckineejit said...

(a)beautiful Autumn day and in my memory the whole of our little village stood at their gates and time stood still. It stays in my memory like a tableau.
A vivid and beautiful portrait of the outbreak of war Weaver.

I have never read John Clare but I must find this poem.That is a touching scene of a friend reading to a dying man.A nice way to go I guess?

Kim said...

WW2 anniversary was all over the news here yesterday. (Haven't seen tonights yet, probably a time zone thingy). Many articles about the children who were relocated from London and the hardships of being without family. Don't you love eccentrics, they always appeal to me, not sure what that says about me, LOL! Trees are a fav and poetry about trees especially. My father wrote a series of poems about trees as a protest to our local council cutting down 200 year old trees years ago which were published in our local paper at the time. I was so proud of him for publically taking a stand. He has always been a nature and poetry loving man. I will try to chase up your recommendations and read them for myself. Groan, the booklist just keeps expanding at a faster rate than my ability to find and read them, but it won't stop me either! LOL!

Rachel Fox said...

A great choice, Weaver (and it was me in the bloglist!). I got it from Titus who got it from Hope who got it from...

Love the sound of the swimming book! Must find that.

x

Poet in Residence said...

from Krishna the Beautiful Legend of God, Book X:
p161 sentence 5:
He forgot about the fatigue of the journey.

Linda said...

It is interesting that violent memories stay frozen in the time and space of the mind while beautiful memories flow like water. Thank you for the remembrance, lest we forget.

Did you consult with Dave King before you posted this random book excerpt today by Roger Deakin? Am I missing something about the number seven or is it just a bizarre coincidence? If it is a coincidence, it is too funny and I would have to congratulate you both on your psychic insightfulness. I am off to the garden now to rearrange everything in groups of sevens!

Pondside said...

I was never drawn to writings about nature, but have recently found myself more and more interested. I enjoyed your excerpt, and appreciated the nod toward Clare - thank you.

Leenie said...

I was born in the middle of all that history. Circumstances made it so my father remained at home with his family, unlike so many young men of that time. May such a worldwide tragedy NEVER happen again. Fun line from your book. Hope the building goes well and is completed soon.

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

Your post today is very toudhing in so many ways: recollections of war starting; the random sentence had beautiful imagery; and your story of Blythe reading to his friend.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Weaver:

First I'm going to re-read this post - because I loved the content, and also because of the beauty of the writing. Just lovely. Thank you.

I will check out the eccentrics you suggest. Love eccentrics!

The Weaver of Grass said...

TFE - funny how some things stay in our memories as "stills" in the frame - nobody moves in my memory of this event - everything stands still.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Kim I love the bit about your father sticking up for trees and writing poetry - lovely.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Rachel - sorry I didn't give you a mention but thanks for suggesting it - I found it an interesting blog.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Poet - love the line - such a gentle one.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Linda - no there was no consultation - isn't it odd that we both posted articles abvout sevens. Shall point it out to him.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Pondside - hope you enjoy Clare - he writes about little except nature, so you need to be interested in it. Glad you are moving that way.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Leenie - thanks for the comment.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks Derrick - hope the rain has stopped.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Bonnie - glad you like eccentrics too.

Heather said...

I keep forgetting to say how much I like your new header photo and the one of yourself. I was three when WW2 started and don't actually remember that fateful broadcast, but I do remember moving from Sussex to Bucks to live with my grandparents. Greater awareness came a little later on. I must look out for Roger Deakin's books - he sounds a character and I love your choice of '5th sentence'. I shall go and look for mine.

Reader Wil said...

Sorry to read in your comment that you have nothing but rain. We had today a very strong wind, and I had to go to hospital to get an ECG. The hospital is in Rotterdam and it takes 45 minutes to get there from where I live.
The book I read now is "Chickensoup for the Soul Tough Times,Tough People", which contains a contribution of Renie Burghardt, one of our bloggers.
I just finished " Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown.

MarmaladeRose said...

Hello Mrs. I bet you're glad to get that floor finished!
Can you please email me so that I can save your email address? Wonderful Man has wiped all my email contacts! Bless him!!!!

Eryl Shields said...

Roger Deakin will go on my list (longer than my arm since I took up blogging) of writers I must read, he sounds great.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

That sounds a wonderful book, Weaver. I like neccentrics too! And the idea of seeing trees as individuals.

BT said...

I'm afraid I was just a bit young to remember it but I can imagine how it felt in your road, Weaver. What an incredible day. So well written, too.

Thanks for the info about the writers too. Fascinating story.

Golden West said...

I wasn't born until after the war, but my father's stories of being stationed in the South Pacific were a staple of my childhood. Surely your Winston Churchill is one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century.

Cloudia said...

Your memory of the village stillness echos my memories after 9-11. thanks for making that vivid tableau live in my mind now too.

Aloha-

Comfort Spiral

Hildred and Charles said...

Weaver, I am late with my comment, having had a busy day yesterday.

My literary sentence if from 'The Crown of the Year' by Jane Mossendew, who combines gardening with meditations.

This sentence refers to the wayfaring tree (viburnum lanatum).

'The white flattish flower heads, which appear in May and June, are similar to elderflower, but more dense'.

The meditation is about St. Columba and the Wayfaring Tree.

I have memories also of the day war was declared. My father was wounded a month before the end of the first World War, and in 1939 he was suffering the after effects of this wound (osteomylitis) - the interval between wars was so short, and I'm sure he was profoundly affected by the prospects of what must have seemed the continuation of the terrible war he had survived.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Lovely post. I am printing it out to read in bed tonight. John Clare is one of my favourite poets. Have a lovely weekend!

Dave King said...

Ah, the Harvest Festival: that is something I seriously miss from my chapel days. Once again you have taken me on a nostalgic walk, for which I give much thanks and many praises.

Dave King said...

Forgot to thank you also for the reminder of Clare's poetry. I did know it, but any excuse to go back...

The Weaver of Grass said...

Memories, memories - seems we all have them and think of the old times often, whatever our age! Thanks for responding - as usual - and giving us all plenty to read.