Monday, February 07, 2011

Things of early spring and late winter, and other oddments.

I have decided that if I don't make one of those patchwork posts, of bits and pieces taken from camera and notebooks and envelope backs, I won't post at all, and waste not want not.

I go to Le Grand Pré to pick up tickets for a performance of flamenco dancing at the end of the month.  It is a vast place, in an enormous space, with glorious views across the bay, and, it seems, about two scheduled performances of anything a month, from September to May.  I suppose the schools must use it, and conferences.  Nearby, though, I spied a mimosa, just about to flower, and a very fine donkey in a paddock behind it.

Yellow globes of early spring, but then also these tenacious holders-on from autumn too, a yellow crab apple tree, its fruit as big as eggs, and miraculously still intact and glowing through all the frost and wind and snow we've had, like the golden apples of the sun.

I bit into a dropped one.  It was quite sweet, but the tannin was mouth-scouring.  The birds don't mind. 


On the matter of birds, lately it seems that the jays have taken over the niche that the magpies used to occupy in the garden.  The magpies are still about, but they keep more to the fields and hedges and roadways, while the jays come more boldly near to the house, which is an odd reversal.  Sometimes there are several of them, dancing about on the tops of the hedges and perching in the trees.  It occurred to me, watching a pair of magpies hopping about on the road, that the jays still seem rarely to come down to the ground like that, but then I looked out of the window the other day and saw one foraging on the grass.


The white van's windscreen, convex like the mirror in van Eyck's Arnolfini Wedding, holds the entirety of the plane tree and the morning's blue and rose-cream sky behind it within its scoping, passive eye.  It stands in the car park, square, banal, rude, mechanical, discreetly offering this perfect vision to the the world.


 Blue hyacinths.  They loll about shamelessly, as if drunk on their own perfume.


As I tip the glass into the big déchetterie skip for recycling, I feel a momentary pang of remorse, to see the empty  Croft Original bottle and squat brown Marmite jar, abandoned and forlorn among the Bordeaux and beer bottles, and jars that once held green French beans and apricot jam.



'I'd say that metaphysical acrostics,
Rightly taken are as good as joss sticks.'

( Geoffrey Hill, from Oracles)


On a day of cold wind and sunbursts, the emerging grass and winter wheat take on that wildly hopeful sheen of green, glowing back at last at the sky and the stripes of winter trees, like a smile, a refusal to stay sullen any longer.


Lilacs In May said...

How funny that I looked at the sky today and used the same word in my mind to describe it - sullen. Lovely photos.

zephyr said...

i do believe you live on a more northern latitude than i do...and yet you have young green sprouting up all around you while our gardens are covered in snow and ice we still measure in FEET! It never ceases to amaze me--the effects of the gulf stream on your corner of the globe.

Dale said...


Fire Bird said...

what a lovely commonplace book sort of a post...

Barrett Bonden said...

On discarded bottles. Knee-jerk, I was about to slap your wrist for an act of public sentimentality when I found myself overtaken by an act of public honesty. Needless to say I'm talking about wine. Since we consume such enormous quantities I can't afford to dwell too often on the containers but perhaps half a dozen times over the last thirty years I have shared your Marmite tendency. In particular a ten-year-old Volnay. En route to the utility room, the Rive Gauche of the Styx for empty wine bottles Chez Bonden, I found myself looking at the bottle, the smeary residue of the wine still adhering to the interior (I'm very anal about getting rid of used things) and was visited by an uncharacteristic reluctance. As if I were disposing of the wine's ghost, brutally offering the door to a dinner guest whose conversation had run out.

During our troubled 2010 when celebrations had to be cancelled I bought a bottle of Krug for Saturday-evening solace and Mrs BB grudgingly admitted (she is first and foremost a red person) it was "pretty" good - the ultimate epithet. I thought about the wheelie bin but could not effect the quietus. And thus the bottle sits on a small shelf in the kitchen put up by me and intended for purely decorative items. And I apologise for my premature attack of hard-heartedness towards you.

Crafty Green Poet said...

That last photo is wonderful, the light is perfect....

My parents have found jays almost displacing magpies in their garden sometimes. Here we don't have a garden and i rarely see jays anywhere, though I have found their discarded feathers sometimes

20th Century Woman said...

I love the photo of last year's apples. How brave of you to taste one!

Anil P said...

Back here, the Roller Jays are to be found mostly in open fields, with electricity wires for perches. For a moment the pattern on the head reminded me of the Thrush back home.

The last picture, the landscape is beautiful, almost a painting.

Nimble said...

O that vivid greeny green of spring's start. Lucky!

Dick said...

Spring is clearly springing early your way. Thanks for these first signs that there's a chance we might actually get an alternative season to this winter, which seems to have been going on now for several years.

Beautiful, the mimosa.

Interesting about the jays - they're normally as shy as the magpie is bold.

Only Geoffrey Hill could get away with a rhyme that cheeky.

jo(e) said...

Such lovely images!

Laura said...

Oh, Lucy, reading this and seeing your photos makes me want to be with you and Tom and Mol, taking a long walk through field and forest. Mol would love our new dog Norah and all of you would love my husband David. One day we WILL do this.
I was amazed to see how springy it is there--it's still very, very spare and twiggy here.

Lots of love to you, all three of you.

Rouchswalwe said...

Ah, the light this time of year! How I wish to loll about shamelessly. Maybe next weekend.

Bee said...

I'm just amazed that those crab apples have clung on! We have a little malus tree, but it quickly dropped the fruit that I never bothered to pick this year. (Last year I made jam from it, but I never felt in the mood to do this autumn.)

Btw, my mystery shrub turned out to be viburnum.

That mimosa against the blue sky reminds one of cheerier places.
I've been quite despondent today about the return of foul weather. About once a week we get a sunny few hours and a whiff of spring, but then winter closes in again.
Lots of green shoots, though, which I am monitoring with fierce attention!

the polish chick said...

it even smells of spring, across the ocean and my screen. it's green here too, but sadly in 3 weeks i shall be moving to a land of everlasting winter, one province to the east. then i'll really count on your pictures to give me little teasing glimpses of that which is yet months away in alberta...