Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.



Saturday, February 05, 2011

February Filldyke


February Filldyke is certainly living up to its reputation this afternoon and looks as though it is going to try even harder over the next couple of days! Still the old saying is

'If February brings no rain
Tis neither good for grass nor grain'.

The painting above is called February Filldyke and is by an artist called Benjamin William Leader (1831-1923). It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1881 to what was,I gather,a less than enthusiastic reception! Personally I like it a lot, it's very atmospheric.


I love this illustration from the Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. The Tres Riches Heures is a beautiful medieval Book of Hours part of which is a calendar illustrated with scenes of daily life in the village. In February we see people warming themselves by the fire in the farmhouse, a man chopping wood and another man driving a heavily laden donkey towards the village. The detail is exquisite and the more you look the more you see. Surmounting each monthly picture is a hemisphere containing the chariot of the sun and the appropriate sign of the Zodiac - for February these are Aquarius the Water Carrier and Pisces the Fishes. It really is worth enlarging this and looking at it more closely.




I don't think February is very high on anyone's list of favourite months but it does have some good things to offer, this morning on a wet walk in Eccleshall Woods I saw that the first of the herons is back and inspecting the nesting site, the pussywillow is appearing, the tight little hazel catkins are turning into fluffy lamb's tails and the small, heart-shaped green leaves of the lesser celandine are pushing up through the earth - Spring really is just around the corner.

26 comments:

Monique Elisabeth said...

This is a beautiful painting. The book of days is something that was talked about when I was at school. I think it was during history lessons. I love it.
Nature is really waking up. I can hardly wait for the bulbs to bloom.
Have a wonderful weekend

Piecefulafternoon said...

You make February sound a lovely month - I too love to look for the little changes.

WOL said...

I have a facimile edition of the Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry That I got through The Book Of The Month Club years ago. I should get it down and give my eyes a treat. More snow is prophesied for us tonight and tomorrow. Even though it warms up during the day, but nighttime temps continue to be below freezing as they have for every night for weeks now. I don't think I want to play this game any more. To "corn" a phrase, "I need a little Springtime, right this very minute!"

I'm all set to envy your beautiful English flowers (garden and wild) and am looking forward to your lovely pictures of them.

Gretel said...

Ah, as soon as I saw the title of this post I knew what painting would be illustrating it! It's a wonderful work, superbly painted. I don't mind February so much, at least we are getting lighter mornings and evenings and as you say, dear little spring flowers emerging. November and December now - they really make me shudder!

Vintage Sea Muse said...

That really is a lovely painting. I love February because it is the herald of spring. A few more weeks and everything will be bursting into life: wonderful!

Shirl xxx

Rosie said...

February Filldyke is a wonderful painting and there certainly is enough rain to fill the dyke at the moment. I love the illustration from Tres Riches Heures so many little things in there to discover. Although February is quite a bleak month there is always that tantalising feeling of wonderful things to come and the fact that it is the shortest month also helps to get though it:)

Wanda..... said...

February is a good month for me...with thoughts of Spring and family birthdays galore! I love Benjamin William Leader's 'February Filldyke' painting. I would welcome a wintry sky like that over my field... anyday!

Bovey Belle said...

http://www.cofiadurcahcymru.org.uk/arch/query/page.php?watprn=CPAT691&dbname=cpat&tbname=core

Rowan said...

In case anyone is worried about the comment from BB - it's OK it's a link to a website about Garn Coch Cairn:)

Mac n' Janet said...

Lovely painting Rowan, February is always a waiting month for me, things are starting to grow, but the weather still turns too cold for planting much. It will be our last really cold month.
The illustrations were gorgeous, love books like that.

Tramp said...

A wonderful sky in the painting. I have just come in from seeing a magnificent sunset.
...Tramp

Roy said...

Yes I really like the February Filldyke painting Rowan.
The really good thing about February is that its a short month and is much nearer Spring.

Janet said...

The painting is quite beautiful and as you said atmospheric. But I especially like the illustration from the book of days. I love seeing all the details in a piece like that.

So far our February is not too bad. A few cold nights but mostly very comfortable days.

Diane said...

All very positive signs! My daughter had to go back to Manchester tonight and they were running a substitute service by bus from Sheffield, which then picked up the train at Stockport. I could well believe that there had been a landslip as it was so wet - I felt as if we were travelling across Paddy Fields!! The Don looked scarily high and very brown too! And we haven't even had a wet winter! xxxx

Thimbleanna said...

Wow -- I can't believe you're seeing signs of spring already. We're still enjoying the snow here -- I'm not quite ready for spring yet -- I love the lazy days of winter with now yardwork to worry about. Beautiful pictures!

Hildred and Charles said...

I agree with you that the Leader painting has a lovely atmosphere, and I love to hear about your signs of spring.

laoi gaul~williams /I\ said...

i admit to getting disgruntled over the recent weather but yesterday we cleared some leaves and saw snowdrops and so much new growth coming through the damp earth it filled my heart!

George said...

Well, Rowan, you have certainly made me feel better about February, which has been a challenge here in the U.S. I love that painting, especially the way that the light is captured by the artist. To be honest, however, I could not take my eyes away for your header photo. I must say it deepened my yearning for the return of spring.

Gracie said...

Well, I have to say I love february, it's the month of my daughter birthday, the month of St. Valentine and the month in between, as I call it, not yet out of the winter and not yet springtime, but it holds a promise......

Mimi Foxmorton said...

I just so love this blog.......
;)

SouthernHeart said...

I like the painting! The "walkers" appear to be searching for a spot of ground not covered in water on which to take the next step...much like here during the rainy season in Oregon! I'm ready for Spring!

Blessings,
Dianne
www.mysouthernheart.com

joanne May said...

I really like both paintings. They are lovely strong works. I especially like the medieval illustration. The detail is magical with a beautiful composition!
January and February are not my favourite months but at least in February you can sense a gradual change with some milder weather.
My little willow tree has catkins and the snowdrops are now out in the garden! :-)

Spring blessings,
Jo.

Sheila said...

The painting is beautiful, I like it very much.
I enjoyed the description of your walk, it brings back many happy memories. We are still under several inches of hard packed frozen snow, so it's nice to know Spring is on it's way.
xx

The Summer Porch said...

Hello Rowan ~ I really like this post, actually I love the month of February the days are little longer, lighter anyways. You were mentioning pisces, there are a few family pisces birthdays this month. November and March are the months I dislike most. Spring seems to be coming quicker to different parts of the world I wouldn't mind it to hurry up so I guess I'll have to suffer through March.:)
Have a wonderful week,
Rosemary...

Lucy said...

I think the problem with the top picture is that the cottage sentimentalises what would otherwise be a straight forward and accurate summary-of-a-wet-winter scene. The sky is striking.

I really like the colours in the second. The picture itself reminds me both of Breugel's nativity scene (with the action in the lower left) and of his painting of Icarus falling from the sky (with the man ploughing). So much going on!

Round here, the celandine leaves are just appearing - though I expect now they have started, they will come shoot up apace. I look forward to the flowers.

Lucy

Oh, brilliant! The word verification is 'swoon'!

ONG said...

Oh please let spring come sooner than later!

I am thrilled to have found your blog and look forward to following along all year.