high days and holidays

Good Friday, Easter Monday, Early May Bank Holiday and now the Spring Bank Holiday… we seem to have had a lot of holidays in the UK recently.

Surprisingly, the Early May Bank Holiday actually coincided with May Day this year, and today, too, has its own traditional associations:

The 29th of May is Royal Oak Day:
if you don’t give us a holiday, we’ll all run away !

Sadly, I didn’t pass even a single oak tree on my brief walk to the shop this morning, so have settled for pulling a few dead leaves from the archives.
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out on a limb

I was wondering: do adults still ask small children what they want to be when they grow up? And if they do, what are the popular answers?

When I was a little girl, boys still wanted to be train drivers and girls wanted to be ballet dancers. True, one of my brother’s friends was reported to have said he wanted “to be a computer”, but then, we’d always thought he was a bit odd.
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perfumed memories

Linden flowersThe scent of linden flowers after rain – from the tree the English call lime – has brought memories of the garden in Spain.
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brightside down

Church spire

Yesterday was one of those typical days of English summer: blue skies and sunshine, sparkling drizzle, brief torrential rain and blustery gusts of wind. I dressed appropriately – sleeveless blouse and sunglasses, but also a scarf – and carried an umbrella – not just a little fold-up one tucked in my handbag, but a full size golfing umbrella, which was needed before I’d got to the end of the street.
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endings and beginnings

About ten days ago I was running to catch a bus to get to a meeting when I passed a huge may tree in full bloom. I hadn’t time to do more than pause and then rush on, but I thought it’d be a good idea for the last blog post of this month: how we have two bank holidays in May, and yet neither of them are May Day; how the English say Ne’er cast a clout till May be out – whether that be the month of May or the blossom – while the Spanish with their far balmier climate say hasta el cuarenta de mayo no te quites el sayo – don’t take off your coat till the 40th of May; how taking may blossom into the house is supposed to bring bad luck…

Of course, I then forgot to go back and take the picture.

This morning I went across the park and there are plenty of trees and other plants in bloom, but I didn’t find any hawthorn.

The park was frothing at the hedges with cow parsley:

cow parsley
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re-writes

On a recent walk, I saw a squirrel dart across the path and run up into a tree. When I looked up through the bare branches, I could see his tail splayed wide – presumably to give him better balance – and was struck by how closely it resembled the catkins of the pussy willow.

pussy willow catkin/flower
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seeing and not seeing

I posted a photo of a rabbit last week, but it wasn’t a very successful one as the bunny’s colouring blended so well with the undergrowth. I gather that this blending into the background is crypsis (as opposed to mimesis when the creature disguises itself as something else).

Here, then, is a less cryptic rabbit:

brown rabbit grazing
Camouflage hinders our seeing things that are really there, but our brains often trick us into seeing things that aren’t there.
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