Monday, 23 April 2018

Dorset on St George's Day

It's England's national day and the St George's Cross is flying high on the church flagpole.

Across the road, the brewery has just picked up a load of empty beer barrels from the pub and stocked up its cellar with full ones.

In the fields, there are cuckoo flowers. Great drifts of them.
The naked ash tree is silhouetted against a bright blue sky and the old shepherd and his dog on my late father's weather vane trudge ever onwards.
In the village hall where Mr Grigg and I had our wedding reception many moons ago, they're clearing up the remains of the cider festival. The golden nectar of my grandparents' days, when they made cider from their own orchards and no additives were involved, is now quite rightly enjoying a resurgence.

Thomas Hardy loved it, as you can gather in this extract from Great Things:

Sweet cyder is a great thing,
     A great thing to me,
Spinning down to Weymouth town
     By Ridgway thirstily,
And maid and mistress summoning
     Who tend the hostelry:
O cyder is a great thing,
     A great thing to me!

And so did William Percy Withers,  my grandfather, in his poem Ode To An Onion:

Here with a loaf of bread beneath the tree
A hunk of cheese to keep thee company,
A well-filled jar of cider by my knee,
Holds life, indeed, a deal of charm for me.

A knife, to cut my food in slices neat,
a friendly dog to watch me, while I eat;
A pipe - tobacco tasted ne'er more sweet;
Then forty winks. Now is my bliss complete.

In the hall on Saturday, The Skimmity Hitchers sang about keeping ferrets in the front room and second home owners discovering the Westcountry and running a nice little stall in the farmers market.
It's a rustic life.

Spring is here. It's taken long enough.

And just when we've got used to T-shirts, shorts and blue skies, the weather - oh to be in England, now that April's there - decides to turn its back and go cold on us again.

But that's no matter. We can see beech buds bursting greengage green, worms wriggling in the newly-turned earth and herbaceous plants making a break for freedom from their earthy winter quarters towards a clear blue sky.

There's a thrush nesting in the privet hedge and seven buzzards circling high in the sky. The rooks are thriving in their tall tree colony down the lane and seagulls have ventured inland to nest and match the jackdaws for noise.

And the dog is hot, even in her new spring coat.
It's a lovely time of year.

That's about it.

Love Maddie 

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