gallery, cafe & apartment

The grass is ris…*

Spring has arrived at The Old Byre.  And so it should have, I hear you say, it’s half-past April! But how do you measure the onset of Spring?  Astronomically it’s the vernal equinox, when the sun is overhead at the equator: as we’re in the northern hemisphere it’s the March equinox, on 20 March.  Or you can use the definition of the World Meteorological Organization, which is that spring starts on 1 March.  Or you can define it as when the local mean daily temperature reaches 6°C, the growing season for most plants, which should appeal to my ecological roots.

Spring lamb (Spring, when a young man's fancy turns to mint sauce...)

In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of mint sauce...

I’m not thinking of any of these.  On Thursday evening I heard the first lamb bleating from the barn ‘next door’, and on Friday the first lambs were out in the field.  Now, I haven’t suddenly turned into some horny-handed son of the soil, harbouring idealised bucolic fantasies of cap-doffing yokels and ruddy-faced milkmaids, but this is real life running to nature’s beat.  In Greenford the arrival of summer was always marked for me by the first swifts wheeling in the London sky, and on previous visits to here, autumn has seemed to be the arrival of the greylag geese.  Down by the burn the banks are yellow with primroses and the irises are starting to show above the water. The infamous Scottish midges can’t be far behind…  Sometimes you don’t need a dictionary: just opening your eyes and looking at the world about you tells you all you need to know.

I’m enjoying not having everything available at the flick of a switch – it keeps you honest, as they say.  (But who are they??).  If it’s cold of an evening we can’t just turn on a gas fire anymore, we have to light the wood stove, which in turn means that I have to chop the logs a couple of times a week, which is somehow satisfying in itself.   Yes, I know we still have central heating, but have you seen the price of heating oil?  And to the generations of Scouts I taught to use an axe: see, I told you it was a useful skill!  Oh, and the grass certainly is ris – the parts that pass for lawn will need cutting soon.  As for the rest, I must find somebody who owns a scythe…

*Further patronising outburst for blog readers.

‘The grass is ris…’  This is the part of a ‘poem’ of disputed origin.  The version I know runs

Spring has sprung, the grass is ris,
I wonder where the birdies is?
The birds is on the wing.
My word, how absurd,
I thought the wing was on the bird!

Serves you right for asking…

Currently listening to: Mingus Ah Um – Charles Mingus


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3 thoughts on “The grass is ris…*

  1. Fantastic post Neil – very evocative, makes me very jealous as it sounds breathtakingly beautiful!

  2. Malcolm the scout on said:

    Oh I see the poet is coming out in Mr Neil hehe. I will try to locate the author on the Grass is Ris (and I always thought it was you)?
    A bit of usless info regarding the SCYTHE. Did you know it was the Romans who introduced this to this Country oops sorry to the bit below Hadrians Wall, when they came over for that long holiday back in 0000 oh yes understand they also brought us the common Snail.
    Enjoying your Blog Neil, will try to keep up with it.
    And I also agree with the comment from Simon above…………….

    • You’re quite right Malcolm, the common, or garden, snail (Helix aspersa) is indeed thought to have been introduced to Britain by the Romans. That’s not to say that we didn’t have snails in pre-Roman time, as there are around 90 species of snail in Britain. Did you know that the collective noun for snails is an escargatoire?

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