|tree altar - Beatrice Grundbacher|
Every year the willows in the brookside meadow blaze a brilliant deep orange red, and every year it takes me by surprise, this flash of exuberance when the land is sunk so deeply in winter; reminder that nothing lasts, not even gloom and (apparent) stasis.
There are primroses in the hedges. I was brought up in North Devon, on the coast, maybe 80 miles as the crow flies from where I live now, diametrically opposite in this big county; and we always reckoned that the primroses would be out for Mother's Day, in late March – happened to often coincide with my mum's birthday. I guess it's global warming that's bringing them on; can't help being delighted to see them though.
Last night, in the dusk, two tawny owls called over my head. At lunchtime yesterday, a yard away from the kitchen French doors into the courtyard, a young fox was sniffing around for birdseed. He or she was thin and bedraggled, and clearly hungry, despite the proliferation of rabbits up in the field and veg garden. I wonder if it's the same youngster I see sitting in her column of bright air in the field adjoining us sometimes?
It's sunny! Dog and I strolled a long stroll through meadows and hills. The last little bit of river mist was rolling in the coombes of the tightly-folded South Hams, and the buzzards were high, sometimes stacked in tiers like planes awaiting their call down to earth. The ash and the oak are both daring to swell into bud-becomings (yep I can feel myself wanting to use that fabulous phrase 'apical helispheres' yet again!). The fields are packed with gulls, rooks and jackdaws; I assume that the wet followed by a little warmth is bringing all the invertebrates to the surface.
In all the bad news – Mali, now – there is a little good news: Greenpeace has persuaded Levi's not to use hazardous chemicals in their clothing manufacturing processes. And the pod of whales trapped by ice off the Canadian coast has been freed.
These little moments of eternity, as Blake didn't say (but one of the romantic French poets did: Verlaine? Eluard? Prévert?). These are the primroses in the barren banks, and we need to cherish them. Our task is to live with one foot in the macro and one in the micro, knowing joy, knowing sorrow, and learning how to hold both – all – lightly.