River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Notes from a Newcomer

June 2006

Marion waxes lyrical about the merry Month of May

Notes from a newcomer

I have had to drag myself in from the garden, with great reluctance, to share my thoughts with you this month. A friend of mine has a saying: "The day I can't wash myself, shoot me." Brief, and to the point. My own, rather longer,

version is: "If May comes and my heart fails to give a joyous leap, have me put down."

This is my favourite month of the year by a mile - even rain has its own lush magic in May. But it was bright sunshine when I drove down the Fosse Way last week, past woods bursting with bluebells and roadsides foaming with creamy cow parsley. I stopped at a farm shop to buy freshly picked asparagus and said to a lamb gambolling in a nearby field, 'Hey! why can't it be like this all

year round?'. It skipped in agreement. Well, poor thing, this was probably its one and only May.

If I wrote poetry, May would be my inspiration. Nothing very original about that thought. By happy chance, the Fosse Way passes through Warwickshire, Shakespeare's county. I firmly believe it was his favourite month, too, even though he sternly reminded us that rough winds do shake the darling buds of May. However, most other poets have ignored the odd spot of stormy weather and invariably described the month as 'merry' (although T S Eliot - tending to look on the gloomy side - wrote of 'depraved May'.

Well, I suppose it might be if you are stuck indoors working in a bank, as he did). But I go along with the 'merry' school of thought: there is something about

the sheer giddiness of May that makes you want to laugh out loud. Trees are every imaginable shade of green, orchards are in delicate bloom and birds sing their little hearts out. Never mind that the theme of their song is

aggressively territorial, they make an appropriately merry sound.

Thomas Hardy hoped that, after he was dead, people would remember his love of the countryside and his loving observation of the changing seasons. He wrote:

"When the present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,'He was a man who noticed such things'?"

Who could wish for a better epitaph?

By the time you read this, it will be June. The sheen will have dulled a little, the brilliant greens settled down to a more uniform matt green, and we will be resignedly thinking that 'summer's lease hath all too short a date'.

Another 11 months has to pass before we can 'recapture that first, fine careless rapture'. Yes, I know that Browning was referring to April but I'm allowing myself a little poetic license, and I think the words are even better suited to May.

Marion Clarke

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