From Dawn till Dusk

It is hard to express my relief and sheer joy in the first real days of warmth and light. I often joke that I don't get out much - but it is true, possibly unusually so in this day and age. Winter in the country - carless and with a pitifully poor bus service - can be trying, especially long ones where I may not venture out for days on end. Most of the time I am happy working away in my studio, muffled to the eyeballs in various jumpers, socks and beanies (should that be beany? I only wear one...) but it has been a long, tedious season. Yesterday I headed out for my morning walk caressed by gentle fingers of Spring breezes, intoxicated by the gorgeous wafts of rapeseed blossom - a smell which will always signify Oxfordshire summers to me.

This is the start of my regular walk - whatever is happening in my life, my heart lifts when I see these fields spreading out before me and all around me I can look across the Cotswolds, spreading gently towards the West country.

Now, look beyond the first field, past the sliver of the next green meadow and further, to the next crop of rapeseed...

...there we are, the path gently rising and onwards to the top farm. My little 3 mile walk is usually uneventful, save for the small pleasures which enchant any nature lover.

But it was enough to be warm, and on returning home, to be able to sit in a sun-soaked garden, designing new toys with writhing cats about my feet and sprightly seedlings basking in the heat. And so it has always been.

The Cuckoo Song (c 1250. anonymous)

Sumer is icumen in,
Loude sing cuckou!
Groweth seed and bloweth med,

And springth the wude nuw.

Summer is a-coming in,
Loudly sing cuckoo!
Seed grows and meadows bloom
And the wood grows anew.

There is a full version of both the Middle English and a modern translation, complete with recording of the tune here (do turn your speakers on, it starts up as soon as you get there, and yes, it was featured in the Wicker Man).

So giddy was I with the delights of the first Summer's day, I dragged Andy out to the woods that evening. I had forgotten how much I adore dusk - the halfway house between day and night, full of quiet and transference. The bluebells are still in full bloom and at this hour of the evening were nodding drowsily, drenching the air with sleepy perfumed sighs.

The woodland birds were putting the world to bed with a jubilant chorus and we startled a little trio of Muntjack deer. Although only knee-high - about the size of a small dog - they have a fearsome 'bark'. If you didn't know what it was, you would be quite alarmed. Listen to this exchange, with the birdsong warbling away in the background.

No, it is only trees you can see, despite my best efforts they evaded my camera.

Anxious sheep called their straying lambs and the red sun sunk below the darkening trees. We missed our turning and ended up in the boggy corner. As we headed homewards, a slender sickle moon rose above the horizon, bobbing sweetly across the night sky.

Now the day is over,
Night is drawing nigh,
Shadows of the evening

Steal across the sky.

Now the darkness gathers,
Stars begin to peep,
Birds, and beasts and flowers
Soon will be asleep.


Mary Beth said...

I can't describe how much I love spring, especially after a trying winter (which we did NOT have here, so I am not allowed to complain in case old man winter decides to really slam us next year in retaliation). However, the first warm days when you open the windows and air out all the stale winter smell and the fresh scent of the flowers start wafting in ... it's unreal:)

Rima Staines said...

How very lovely your day sounds.. Yes I feel as delighted as you do about these new sunny days.. and what lovely yellow rapeseed .. we've got equally yellow blooming broom here on the roadsides. And I do love that medieval song.. I think I have various versions! Happy days to you xx R

Anonymous said...

Oh how I love the ground covered in bluebells! That picture is a feast for my eyes. Thanks for sharing all this beauty. :)

AC said...

Thanks for that post Gretel. It is just what I needed tonight...nature to lift my spirits.
Take care,
Alison x

ellen said...

Oh, Gretel..thank you. This is lovely...so lovely and peaceful. What wonderful pictures and words!
Now the day is over...you take me back to being a wee girl..Jesus, grant the weary, calm and sweet repose, with thy tenderest blessings, may mine own eyes close. Grant to...oh, better stop.
This is wonderful. Thanks again. e

Anonymous said...

As I sit here in the middle of a concrete jungle, I was captivated and enchanted by photos of your walk and the accompanying poetry. Thanks so much for sharing. It really made my day.

Anonymous said...

I feel like I'm there - excellent stuff!

best wishes from the madness of London
(andy "do the voice")
the type nerd

d. moll, l.ac. said...

Thanks for sharing your walk and the curious barking deer.....I never knew.........and now I do.....

kate smudges said...

The rapeseed fields in bloom are incredible. We won't see those until late June...

The Muntjacs must have been a wonderful sight - especially with their barking.

Best of all to me - the fields of bluebells. I'd want to sit and stare at them every day until the sun went down.

Sumer is icumen in ...

Tina said...

Those pics are straight from Van Goghs world. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

A delightful, evocative post, thank you. My French grandmother called dusk "l'heure entre chien et loup" - the hour between dog and wolf. The very best time of day, calming to the spirit.

tlchang said...

Huh, I thought I'd left you a comment a couple of days ago, but apparently not.

Was so surprised to learn that you have 'escaped' muntjacs roaming your woods! I had only ever pictured them in some far Eastern landscape... The flowers are such a wonderful marker of spring. The moon picture is perfect.

Dana and Daisy said...

I feel as though I've been there after visiting your blog today! Thank you!

Libbys Blog said...

I know what you mean about trying to get out and about, when living in the country!!! We still pay the same council tax, yet have no street lights, pavements or buses! I lie we get one bus a week!! lol! The joys of living in the sticks!!!

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

Such gorgeous blankets of bluebells in your woods! My!!! I am always enchanted by blue flowers and your lovely bluebells have enchanted me thoroughly today.

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

auntpearl said...

So glad you took that camera with you. I can see why you like to get out and take walks with such beautiful scenery waiting for you.
Thanks for sharing.


Jaimee McClellan said...

What a wonderful walk, I wish I could join you...it looks absolutely breathtaking!

jamjar said...

such a lovely post, my dog woke from her slumbers and barked at the computor when the muntjac barked!

Erica-Jane said...

"As I was walking home one day I saw a little elf,
Hiding behind a twisty tree and singing to himself,
-'Oh I love the woodland life and I love to playeeee,
Among the leaves that are so green,
On a summers day'.

As I was going to my bed, I thought of him again,
Wishing that I could be like him and join in his refrain.

-'Oh, I love the woodland life,
And I love to playeee,
Among the leaves that are so green,
On a summers dayeeeee'."

Hi Aunty Gretel, not an ancient song, but circa 1981, Mrs Mc Cardle's music lesson at Rockport School, Craigavad, Northern Ireland :0)

There was one about a ladybird, and something about 5 little mice, but I've forgotten those! Hee hee!


Thought I'd share!

Gretel said...

That is just brilliant Erica, one day you will have to sing it for me!

Erica-Jane said...

Ha ha!
My "singing voice" may make your ears bleed!
If you're willing to take the risk, I should be delighted!

Enjoy the bluebells!


Fibrespace said...

Hi, I've just given you a blogging award, you can take a peek at my blog for more details :), Beth

Merisi said...

Oh so poetic, both images and prose!
Lovely lovely lovely post,
thank you from the bottom of my heart,
really cheered me up reading and looking at this! So glad warmer temperatures have reached your home too. Here spring is waning into an early summer mode.

Krissy said...

I'm so excited to have found your wonderful artwork. I love both your etsy stores. I will be checking back often for more!

Caroline B said...

How odd, my dog also came running in to see what the noise was when I played the clip! I'm loving these warm days too, so much burgeoning growth..

Flora said...

PG did you write that poem? It is so beautiful!!!!

~Banjo said...

Your woodland walk sounds dreamy, I can almost wish myself there... I think it would make a lovely picturebook... (for us 'grownups' maybe?) *smiles* ^_^