May is blue and white. May is the month when bluebells thrust their heads above the leaf mould of an English woodland and carpet it with a hazy sea of blue. It’s when forget-me-nots flower in every vacant spot of earth, and wriggle through the cracks in paving stones. It’s when bluish-purple wisteria scrambles across old brickwork, gently waving its blooms in the light spring breeze. It’s when the sky is often reliably and cloudlessly blue on a sunny afternoon.
Ponds at Harlow Carr Gardens, Harrogate.
The River Ure at West Tanfield.
Bluebells at the bottom of the garden.
Wisteria on the wall.
A mallard at Patelety Bridge. Blue head. White tail.
May is hawthorn time. May is lilac time. May sees late-flowering wild garlic give place to bluebells . Daisies take over. White petals from pear, apple and cherry trees swirl gently to the ground. And white woolly lambs play king-of-the-castle and run races in the fields. Round here, sheep-identification markings are blue.
Dead nettles near the river.
Cherry blossom near the pond at North Stainley.
Lilac about to burst into flower.
Daisies. Of course.
There’s plenty of space for yellow too. Anyone spotted any dandelions?
I’ve been enjoying a brilliant book, ‘The Moth Snowstorm’, by Michael McCarthy. Thanks Penny, for suggesting it.
It’s part nature writing, part memoire, part polemic, and a powerful and affecting read about McCarthy and his relationship with the natural world. A constant theme though, is ‘joy’.
The book first got under my skin when defining ‘joy’, which is perhaps summed up as a moment of true happiness, with a spiritual, selfless, outward looking dimension. McCarthy’s first experience of joy was as a boy, learning to love the landscape and wildlife of the Dee Estuary. Later, it was bluebell woods, chalkland streams … and so on. Most of his joyful moments happen when he’s alone and surrounded by the natural world: though he acknowledges that our children, our grandchildren also bring us moments of undiluted joy.
What in the natural world brings me joy? Nothing original.
The first snowdrops edging through the earth while winter is still bitter, dark and long.
Bluebells, with their sweet cool scent, apparently hovering in an unending hazy carpet across a woodland floor.
Lying in bed early, very early on a springtime morning, and hearing the very first bird as it calls out to orchestrate the morning concert which is the Dawn Chorus.
A rare sight in England now, but fields scarlet with swaying poppies.
Waves crashing on a beach, as a chilly wind whips sand across my face and into my eyes.
What brings joy to your soul?
Afterword: Some of you have asked to be reminded when BBC Radio 4’s ‘Ramblings’ series about the Nidderdale Way is being broadcast. The first of six programmes will be on air this Thursday, 18th May at 3.00. ‘Our’ episode will be the sixth and final one, on June 22nd. Podcast available.
Walking the Nidderdale Way is pretty damn’ joyous, actually.