Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Blessings at Beltane

May 1 was also known as May Day, Labour Day and Beltane Day. Beltane was the last of the three spring fertility festivals. It was the time when the door to summer opened, the sun was finally released from the bondage of winter and able to rule over summer and life once again. As summer began, the weather became warmer, and the beauty of vibrant new life welcomed us to the merry month of May, the month of sensuality and sexuality. Fingers and toes double-crossed, with more clear, blue skies and sunny sunshine than what we’d recently.

Sweet May hath come to love us,

Flowers, trees, their blossoms don;

And through the blue heavens above us,

The very clouds move on

~Heinrich Heine~

There were a few celebrations as representative of fertility to celebrate Beltane. April showers had given way to rich and fertile earth, a good time to celebrate the fertility of the planting season. I have been digging the back garden the past month, breaking up the soil and adding home-made composts to make 2 raised vegetable beds. I have vegetable plugs and seedlings waiting for the perfect day to be planted.

The earth is cool and dark, and far below, new life begins.

May the soil be blessed with fertility and abundance,

with rains of life-giving water,

with the heat of the sun,

with the energy of the raw earth.

May the soil be blessed

as the womb of the earth becomes full and fruitful

to bring forth the garden new

Welcoming birds to the garden was also one of Beltane rituals. We’d always encouraged and welcomed these beauties into ours. We’d installed a feeding station with several different kinds of hanging feeders to accommodate the different kinds of birds, put up a bird box on the old tree at the end of the garden and a bird bath. It was a joy to see them coming and it kept us entertained watching their antics. It helped us improved our photographic skills and most importantly, kept Babe occupied when he has one of his ‘better’ days. This Greenfinch was one of our most recent visitor to the garden. Isn’t he gorgeous?    Coventry D300s X14  04-05-2012 12-58-22At work, I was interrupted 3 times when I was listening to the ALTS webinar “Using the Library of Congress H classification”. The hour long tutorial was very challenging and very informative.  Using the external tables was easily understood but the internal ones made me sit up and took notice. Now, I finally understood how the Library of Congress build up the classification numbers. Just how far we were going to follow will be the biggest challenge. I rather we follow up to a certain step and stop rather than pick and choose at random. I guess I just have to wait and see. I will be co-coordinating the same tutorial for my colleagues in a fortnight’s time. It would be interesting to see their take on this. It will definitely blow their brains away, especially when they were so used to the very simplistic in-house Warwick Schedules.

I also managed to see the bluebells in Tocil Wood. I met Liz by the lakes and we decided to check them out. From a distance, we could see the lovely hues of blue emanating from the woods. The sun filtering through the thick canopy of leaves made the walk magical as the dappled light bounced off the flowers. No wonder bluebell woods were associated with fairy folklore and wonderment as the slight perfume from the vibrant blue-purple flowers whirling around us. Warwick University D3100  02-05-2012 12-24-58

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 –1889) one of the romantic poets, wrote these lines of his poem "May Magnificat"

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes

Warwick University D3100  02-05-2012 12-25-43

On a miserable wet Thursday, the polling stations opened around the country for the city council elections. For Coventry, in addition to the elected mayor referendum, we’d to elect a candidate in each of the City Council’s 18 wards. Labour gained eight more seats to give it an overwhelming majority on a night which left a culled Tory group the only remaining opposition at the Council House. Voters, moi included, then sent a resounding ‘NO’ to Downing Street to having an elected mayor. I don’t want one person with absolute power since elected mayor systems take power away from elected councillors who would have needed a huge two-thirds vote to block a mayor’s policies.

Then another lunch-time drive to Kings Hill Nursery again. This time RC tagged along. She bought a whole basket filled to the brim with all sorts of vegetable plugs. And she planned to come again on the weekend with her hubby. CC was on a spree. Her car boot was filled with vegetable plugs and pots of flower. Moi bought a tray of kale, a pot of cucumber and Gardener Delight’s tomatoes. The gardener had to hunt high and low for a pot of Hellebores which I saw last week. They’d moved the plant into the shaded greenhouse. I wanted this particular plant because it has light purplish flowers. I have one with yellowish-cream flowers in our garden. 

On Saturday, we finally made the long-awaited trip to Bempton Cliffs to check-out the seabird colony.. We’d been planning this trip since the beginning of April but was unable to make it due to the unreliable weather and Babe’s continuing ill-health. The weather had been kind and we’d a fabulous day. Not surprising we took thousands of photographs. I think this trip deserved its own entry.

After the long day and drive, we went to Draycote Water for a slow walk to stretch our legs. Not a good start when my pound coin got stuck in the parking meter. Thankfully, the warden was around and told us that we can park for free and even reimbursed us back. Gracias. We then ambled slowly towards the Farborough Spit. We noticed that the water in the reservoir had risen substantially. Surely a good sign.

As we walked along the wall, we saw a lot of caterpillars sunning themselves. A very vulnerable position we think as they were easy pickings for the birds. But the ladybirds were very ingenious. They huddled in the wall crevices, safe from predators and the harsh elements. We didn’t see any waders as the waters had risen over the mudbanks. But a few Pied wagtails kept us occupied. Draycote Water D300s X2  06-05-2012 12-47-00 It was a lovely Sunday with alternating sunshine and clouds. Bird songs enveloped us but they were well-hidden in the hedges.. Swifts and swallows filled up the skies with their twittering, hunting for insects. Lots of midgets forced us to keep moving. But we’d to stop when we spotted Wheatears bobbing on the rocks. It was lovely to see them again. By this time we’d to turn back. We were already exhausted and made our way home.  Draycote Water D300s X2  06-05-2012 12-07-22We woke up to a very wet Bank holiday Monday. It rained and rained and rained. The previous days had taken a toll on Babe and he was in bed with a hot water bottle strapped to his head. Moi? I’d plenty of chores to keep me occupied. I vacuumed the casa and did the ironing. RC had given me Herman the 5th and I baked another German Friendship cake. A pile of books in the basket were waiting to be read. 

In between showers, I managed to mow the front garden with a hand-mower. I replanted 2 Marguerite Daisy shrubs into the ground right in front of the porch. I am hoping to get another tray to plant in the back garden. They will look amazing in the summer. Tiny shoots from the perennials were slowly peeping through the soil. Astibles, Hostas, Lily-of-the-Valley, Lupins, Arum Lily and Ferns had finally woken up. Lilac and French Lavender were starting to flower. Slowly but steadily, the plants were taking turns to bloom. Every corner I turn, there was either a shoot unfurling or a bud forming.

I’ve noticed something about gardening. You set out to do one thing and pretty soon, you’re doing something else, which leads to some other thing, and so on. By the end of the day, you look at the shovel stuck in the half dug rose bed and wonder what on earth you’ve been doing.

~Ann Raver~

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