Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The Willow Grove

The river Cole and willows
This is one of my favourite places, a cycle path near to where I have been working for the past nine years; a little river, willows, butterflies, bees, birds, a profusion of wild hedgerow flowers and trees (including a few elders that I have grown fond of). I have been to this spot in snow, rain, wind, and sparkling sunshine. When I felt like a prisoner chained to a computer and telephone, with just a patch of sky to be glimpsed through window, I could escape for half an hour and come here. It has kept me sane; next month I am leaving my job to strike out on my own - navigating the uncharted waters of self discovery, my only compass being a deep sense of connection with the natural world.
I look forward to Life's continuing adventure with anticipation, meanwhile this is a homage to my lunchtime sanctuary.
[Jon Dathen writes in his little book of Ogham the following: To see the willows in their true light, choose a midsummer night when the moon is full]

I could write many words about the willow, would have no difficulty in finding a poem to quote; though may well be repeating myself, as I know I have written about willows before. What I love about them is that when you see willows you know there is a stream or river nearby.

The life-force and song of the land - a silvery breeze whispering through shimmering leaves.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

The first swallows of summer

(Illustration by Frank Papes from At The Back of the North Wind by George Macdonald)
Earlier today I decided to apply some stain to my very-small-wooden-shed in an attempt to undo the damage done by Sam the cat who uses it as a scratching post. Not to mention neighboring cats who use its roof as a sun lounge. A peaceful pottering activity, listening to the radio; then I heard that wonderful sunshine sound of swallows over the old cemetery. They were back, these astonishing birds return each year to the same Old Town area of my town. Later in the day, I saw them swoop over a Victorian terraced street, the same one they always seem to return to. (Its possible my swallows are swifts because I find it hard to tell the difference when they are in flight).
Summer is finally here.
Swallows travel to and fro,
And the great winds come and go,
And the steady breezes blow,
Bearing perfume, bearing love.
Breezes hasten, swallows fly,
Towered clouds forever ply,
And at noonday, you and I
See the same sunshine above.
Dew and rain fall everywhere,
Harvests ripen, flowers are fair,
And the whole round earth is bare
To the moonshine and the sun;
And the live air, fanned with wings,
Bright with breeze and sunshine, brings
Into contact distant things .....
incomplete poem by Robert Lois Stevenson
I found the extract below at:http://www.egyptianmyths.net/swallow.htm
In Ancient Egytian mythology Swallow means menet (soul).
"Meaning: During the Old Kingdom, swallows were associated with stars and therefore the souls of the dead. ... The imperishable stars were those near the North Star that never seemed to rise or set, and therefore were "constant".
The swallow also appears in paintings of the solar barque as it enters the underworld. The swallow is usually shown on the prow of the boat. In this context, the bird appears to be an announcer of the sun's approach."
Click on internet link for the complete text
The swallow heralds the coming of spring and happiness, poets praise it, and it appears on the flowering peach branch in classical Chinese painting. In Egyptian love poetry, the swallow sings of the first signs of a new love. For some, it’s a symbol of fertility and renewal, a harbinger of good and a symbol of transformation. For the pilgrim to Mecca, the swallow is the symbol of constancy and faith, and is said to fly to that holy city each year. Swallows mate for life, and therefore represents fidelity and loyalty.
The swallow must be one of the most joyful of all birds.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

May Day

Song on a May Morning
"Now the bright morning-star, Day’s harbinger,
Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.
Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire
Mirth, and youth, and warm desire!
Woods and groves are of thy dressing;
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long."
John Milton, Song on a May Morning, 1660
The first of May, May Day or Beltane, named after the Celtic god Bel or Belenos, meaning the Shining One. Today the hedgerows were burgeoning with wild flowers, blossom and new leaf, truly the best day of the year. Children dancing around a smaller Maypole in the old Tithe Barn at the village of Ansty (south Wiltshire). Earlier in the evening there had been celebrations around the large Maypole which is in the centre of the village. As evening drew in families gathered in the tithe barn; I had the most delicious serving of chips from a little fast food van that I have ever tasted. A memorable May Day indeed.