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.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Little Maid

No,not B Baggins:) He is quite definitely not the little maid! Here he is walking up the bridle path onto Blackamoor yesterday morning. It was still very icy which took me by surprise as all the roads and footpaths were clear. As we walked along though we discovered several little signs of Spring along the way.

This single dandelion flower peeped out from a sheltered spot beneath the brambles.

Further up the track Moldywarp the Mole had obviously been busy. I love this little passage from Wind In The Willows - perhaps this is what Mole had been up to:)

The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring- cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.

I'm pretty sure that this is Jew's Ear growing on a branch of elder - if it is Jew's Ear then it's edible and is used in herbal medicine too. The new growths appear in January and can survive freezing temperatures without coming to any harm.

A few bluebell leaves are beginning to push through though it will be a while before we see the wonderful sheets of hyacinth blue flowers.

The fresh young growth of nettles is appearing too - this was always used as a Spring tonic and it is rich in Vitamins A and C as well as potassium, manganese and calcium. It's one of the nine Anglo-Saxon sacred herbs so it's use goes back into the mists of time. It can be cooked like spinach or used to make nettle beer and when they are past the stage of being used like that they are an excellent addition to the compost heap.

And here at last comes the little maid - this is taken from A Walk Down The Lane by Ernest Aris and conjures up such a lovely picture, the celandines are still to appear and those in the photo above are from last year.

The Rip Van Winkles of the wild lie quiescent in their winter habitats, awaiting the days of warmer winds and softer airs. Around a bend in the lane comes a little maid: on her shoulders the snow lies thick. It fills the folds of her dress and mingles with her bonny brown hair. But there is April in her face and July in her eyes and in her hands are celandines and yellow coltsfoot blooms.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Climbing Over A Brick Wall!

An e-mail last week from my friend P enthusing about a family history breakthrough prompted me to do some work my own family history. It's a good while since I looked at it as the little research I've done in the last couple of years has been on my husband's family. In the meantime Find My Past has put a lot of Cheshire parish records online and as I gazed at the family group sheet for William Wright and Sarah Worthington (click to enlarge the photo)I thought in a very desultory fashion that I'd check to see whether I could find Sarah's baptism. To my utter amazement there it was! Sarah dau of Isaac and Hannah Worthington of Mobberley. She was the only one of their children to be baptized in a non-conformist church. There has never been any sign of non-conformity in my family so although I'd scoured the parish registers from all the surrounding C of E churches I hadn't even considered looking at non-conformist registers. I've been looking for this for over twenty years!! That will teach me to look at all the possible sources however unlikely they might appear to be.

You'll need to click on the photo if you want to read it - Sarah is shown in red with her parents Isaac and Hannah and her grandparents John Worthington and Elizabeth Hallworth.
I was lucky enough to find not only her baptism but her date of birth as well.

Sarah is the missing link that takes me back to John and Alice Worthington who must have married around 1665. I already had all this information and a lot on the Worthingtons too (back to c1700) but Sarah was the missing link as without her I couldn't prove anything. Sadly it's unlikely that I shall locate the marriage of John and Alice as they must have married during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell when many parish registers were either lost,destroyed or simply not entered. Another of my family lines has come to a grinding halt at this period too.

This is Dean Row Unitarian Church where Sarah was baptized, it was built in 1694 so is both old and,I suspect,very interesting. I find it very attractive too for all that it is a simple brick building. Once we get the longer days and warmer weather I shall be off to visit both Dean Row and St Wilfrid's in Mobberley along with St Lawrence, Over Peover where generations of my Wright ancestors lie in the churchyard. That should provide me with a couple of posts later in the year:)

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Dogs Just Want To Have Fun!

B Baggins is great friends with my friend P's dog Bertie and on Saturday afternoon we took them up on Blackamoor just as the snow was starting.

It was very cold and there was ice on parts of the track. I spotted this little ice bridge between the two rocks in the stream, you might need to enlarge the photo to see it.

None of the photos are very good because the dogs were way ahead, it was snowing and I was snapping as we walked. B Baggins hasn't featured much lately though so I decided to post them anyway.

There were big chunky icicles along the river bank.

The ice cold water didn't seem to bother Bertie and B Baggins, P and I skipped across the stepping stones though.

Bracken fronds encased in ice.

Heading for home! Bertie is a lurcher and very fast indeed - you can just see him disappearing round the bend in the lane:)

Saturday, February 04, 2012

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited ;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

This poem by Thomas Hardy seems very appropriate for the present weather, Old Man Winter has come to remind us that he isn't finished with us just yet. The photographs are mine apart from the songthrush which I've borrowed from the web - a small local nature blog called Westfield Life

I think Hardy must have written this poem at about this time of year, he certainly sounds as though he's had enough of the winter:) The very cold clear weather does have its positive side however, we have had some beautiful daybreaks and sunrises - I only wish I could manage to take a halfway decent photograph of one of them - this is the best I've managed so far taken a couple of days ago at the bottom of Shorts Lane.