In 1906 Edith Holden started a Diary, now known as ‘The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady’. In it, she observed Natures cycle through the months of the year, writing simply about the weather, the birds, the flowers and the natural world around her. All the pages are beautifully ornamented with her original artwork and favourite poems. In this Blog, I’m going to try to emulate her Diary in a modern way. For a start, this is a blog on a computer, not pen and ink lovingly written on paper! However, I hope that the end result will have some similarities, in that I want to capture day by day, month by month the steady rhythm of Nature through the year. For although our 21st century lives are hectic, chaotic, noisy and deafened by electronics, the beat of the natural world, which is the backdrop to all our lives whether we notice it or not, remains ever the same. So take a sedate, gentle and steady-paced journey with me through the next year, observing the natural world. Our way of life may have changed almost beyond recognition since 1906, but nature is doing what it always has done, the cycle of nature remains constant and reassuringly predictable. In that respect, nothing has changed. ‘ No Winter lasts forever; no Spring skips its turn.’ (Hal Borland)

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

28th and 29th December. The end of the Year.

Today was the calm day after the storm. Went for a walk along the very wet Olway Valley and up on to the lanes that criss-cross these hills towards Gwehelog. A hard grey light today that seems to bleach colour out of the landscape, which you often get after a storm. There's been a lot of wind damage to the trees, with many branches down and a loy more cracked and ready to fall in the next bout of storms that seem to be heading this way. In tha calm today though there were many birds of prey about, keen no doubt to make the most of the calm conditions to do some hunting and eating! A Sparrowhawk was chasing a green woodpecker that was calling out in fear and alarm and would in a few seconds have got it if it wasn't for the fact that I was in it's flight path and it pulled back when it saw me- lucky for the woodpecker! The hedges are full of birds so I'm sure it didn't take long for it to find an alternative meal. Also saw a beautiful female kestrel which is a rare treat these days in this area, a few decades ago they were very common here but have greatly declined. 

A cold, clear, frosty and sunny day. Walked along the Usk Valley, lots of the flood water lies iced over in the fields. The river is still high and fast flowing, with waves lapping up on to the banks in places, so still devoid of its usual birds. A beautiful glowing golden light today though and lovely blue skies to be appreciated before the next band of grey rain descends!

...And the Year ends on a dark stormy note.

The Darkling Thrush- Thomas Hardy. ( composed New Year's Eve 1900)
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.

Some December days in and around the Usk Valley.

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