Hellebores, primroses and wind anemones. Finally the wind changed and everything burst into life. I have spent the weekend clearing a ton of ground elder and Spanish bluebells from the borders, replacing the lavender plants that were killed by the frost, and potting on tomatoes and chillis in the greenhouse. The lemon verbena bush has come into leaf, and I heard the first chiffchaff last Thursday, and saw the first housemartin yesterday. The black-backed gulls are back in force, but they are more widely scattered than they used to be, before their warehouse roof was demolished. And the smaller birds are nesting and feeding young as if the cold weather had never happened. There are at least three wren nests, a lot of sparrows, chaffinches, blue tits and great tits, blackbirds thrushes and robins all singing their heads off, and the sky over the fields is full of skylark song. The sky is full of thick grey clouds, but there are enough breaks for the sun to burst through, and the grass and violet leaves are full of that rich luminous green that is the colour of spring:
The Colour of Growing
The red glow of nasturtium petals comes
from a golden layer within. Green leaves
which mark deep stains on hands and clothes
shine with their cache of bottled sun.
Steep them in water, simmer gently
for long hours and the bright hue will fade.
Your wool will take its disappointing colour
from chlorophyll, which isn’t ‘yellow’,
but ‘bright’, ‘fresh’, ‘glowing’, ‘alive’.
I have been working on colour poems again lately, and I’m interested that the Greeks seemed to think that ‘chloros’, which is usually translated as green to yellow, is a lively word, while the Old English ‘fealu’ which is the original of our word ‘yellow’, means pale, faded, or withered. And is related to the word ‘fallow’ – a resting time between crops.
I have been lying fallow myself for the last few months, reading a wide selection of interesting books, being distracted from the selection I pictured a few posts back by Border by Kapka Kassabovanew poetry from AC Clarke (I hope to write a review next week) and Nat Hall, and short stories by Tom Kelly (a fellow squirrel, published by Red Squirrel Press) Solitude and Intimacy by Stephanie Dowrick, and the music of Declan O’Rourke, and a lot of family events. I started on The Making of the British Landscape by Nicholas Crane, and realised that there is a lot of territory walking left in me. Thanks to my friend Mairi McFadyen, there are are books by Neil Gunn, Katharine Stewart and Oliver Rackham to investigate, and histories and folk tales to discover. But most of all, new writing – colours and textiles, women’s history, and the history of the earth, some deepening of my critiquing skills, and some reflective writing on art, learning, resilience and the environment. I think the fallow season might be coming to an end.