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Friday, March 11, 2011

The Year’s Awakening

(Hoosick River by Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma”
Moses, 1860-1961, American painter)

“When I got to the bottom of the lane, I set my bicycle against a bank and picnicked on a fence. A beautiful Jay in all the glory of his spring plumage flew screaming across the lane into a spinney of larch trees opposite. He seemed to resent the intrusion of a human being in such an infrequented spot. I was glad to find the white Periwinkle still ‘trailing its wreathes’ on the bank, but the flowers were only in bud, and the violets too were just uncurling their buds under their fresh green leaves. Among the notes of the numerous birds I recognized those of the Thrush, Blackbird, Hedge Sparrow, Sky-lark, Wren, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Green-finch, Pied Wag-tail and Yellow Bunting. The latter was especially conspicuous, perched up on top of the hedge with his bright yellow plumage, repeating his cry — one can hardly call it a song — with its last, peculiar, long drown out note, over and over again. ‘A little bit of bread and no che-ese,’ the country people liken it to. In Cumberland they say it says, ‘Devil, devil, dinna touch me-e.’ This bird is called ‘Yeldrin’ and ‘Yellow Yowlie’ in Scotland. I noticed that the white Periwinkle blossoms have five petals, while the blue have only four. I wonder if this is always so.”

~ Edith Holden, part of the entry of March 10, 1906, from the book
The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady


How do you know that the pilgrim track
Along the belting zodiac
Swept by the sun in his seeming rounds
Is traced by now to the Fishes’ bounds
And into the Ram, when weeks of cloud
Have wrapt the sky in a clammy shroud,
And never as yet a tinct of spring
Has shown in the Earth’s appareling;
O vespering bird, how do you know,
How do you know?

How do you know, deep underground,
Hid in your bed from sight and sound,
Without a turn in temperature,
With weather life can scarce endure,
That light has won a fraction’s strength,
And day put on some moments’ length,
Whereof in merest rote will come,
Weeks hence, mild airs that do not numb;
O crocus root, how do you know,
How do you know?

~ Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), English novelist and poet

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