Saturday, 8 March 2014

Seasonal and Literary Notes.

So now it’s official: according to the Met Office, the winter just passed (as the Met Office defines ‘winter’) was the wettest in England and Scotland since official records began in 1766. See? I told you…

The rain
Was being
A pain

…didn’t I? And according to the National Trust, the storms resulted in more trees being lost than at any time since the Great Storm of 1987.

(For those interested in literary connections, the Great Storm of 1987 features in the celebrated novel Possession. I read Possession at the behest of the Priestess; she said it was apposite. I considered raising the objection that, though my years be advancing, during none of them did I ever aspire to be a poet. But I decided to relish the moment instead and say nothing. Relishable moments are few and far between these days, and too precious to be suffocated at birth by misplaced honesty.)

To continue: I did also say it was pretty windy at times, didn’t I? I did. To my knowledge, we lost five trees in the Shire – three standards and two smaller ones.

What I don’t understand, however, is this:

I read a news report today which said that English strawberries are now in the shops, courtesy of the mild winter. Well, mild winter or not, early March seems a bit unlikely for naturally grown fruit. Strawberries are associated with May and June, and mine certainly aren’t showing any inclination to develop yet, which suggests that the ones in the shops were grown in closed, artificially heated conditions. In that case, what has the mild winter got to do with it? Maybe somebody can enlighten me.

Daffodils, on the other hand, are naturally associated with March and April, and I saw the first one in bloom today – on the embankment of the 17th century Stone House, which is marginally closer to the river valley than we are up here.

(I judge the Stone House to be 17th century, though I’ve seen no written evidence to support my assumption. The owner tells me, however, that it had its origins in 1485. I’ve seen no evidence of that either, although various aspects of contrast between the foundations and the present property lend credence to the belief that an earlier house once stood there.)

OK, this post is jumping about like a Chinese firecracker on coke, so back to the beginning:

Something else I’m sure I glimpsed briefly today was a bat. If so, I hope there are some flies about because I’d like to see more of him or her in the coming months. I like bats.

And just to take one final jump before fizzling out, I’m finding the character of Sarah Woodruff, the eponymous heroine of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, most engaging. She has a quick, intuitive understanding of people, you see, and also a kind disposition. That’s what makes her so attractive, not her pretty face (which, as I recall, isn’t so pretty anyway.)


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