Marching on #March #April #Aries #Shakespeare #astrology #proverb #Leo #clocks #light #Easter

‘In like a lion, out like a lamb!’ is the sweet little proverb often associated with March.

We began the month with biting cold winds, hazardous black ice and blankets of snow; the fierce roar of winter raged on… and Spring was kept deep below the soil.

The origin of the proverb is to do with astrology.

Leo the lion is the rising sign, the sign in ascendency but by 21st March (to 20th April) Aries, the ram, arrives (lamb sounds better than ram).

March is, can be and may have been a difficult month for some. The month has several associations with erraticism:

‘March winds’

‘Mad as a March hare’

and Misfortune ‘beware the Ides of March’ from Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar.’

This was spoken by a soothsayer warning Caesar of his portentous downfall.

When Caesar’s frosty reign ended on the 15th, it was nearly Spring.

The 25th March marks the change of clocks, with an extra hour of evening light…longer, lighter days are here to enjoy, providing the weather is kind.

Easter sneaks in at the end of the month too and then on Easter Sunday we awaken to April.

My new novel: ‘A Worldly Tale Told Of Mothy Chambers’ is available, signed, via kate@katebarnwell.com

www.katebarnwell.com

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Winter’s last full moon #March #moon #equinox #winter #spring #books #snow #weather #2018

Today, the 2nd March, is the last full moon of Winter before the Spring (vernal) Equinox. This year, 2018, the Equinox falls on the 20th March, when winter officially ends and spring begins.

This is the calendar of the Northern Hemisphere, those living in the Soithern Hemisphere will be entering winter and leaving spring behind.

The full moon today goes by many wonderful names.

Firstly a Worm Moon, named after the earthworms that emerge this time of year (although it’s unlikely they will be tempted to rise and push through the thick snow, currently settling across the U.K).

A Lenten Moon, ‘lenten’ from the Germanic languages meaning spring or lengthening, as the days become noticeably longer and lighter, both morning and early evening. From this word we also derive the term Lent, a period of the Christian calendar we are now passing through.

A Crow Moon: crows appear, signifying the end of winter

A Crust Moon: from the crust that forms on top of snow as it begins to melt and refreeze.

A Sugar or Sap Moon: the gathering of maple syrup from the maple tree saps.

Whatever Moon-name you choose to go by, it will be a late riser and high in an black, icy sky. Keep warm & hibernate & look ahead to springtime!

Coming Soon in 2018, a new novella: A Worldly Tale Told Of Mothy Chambers by Kate Barnwell

www.katebarnwell.com

May-Day Merry-making #May #bankholiday #green #tradition #Spring #festivals #flowers #Hastings

This year May Day falls on the First of May, not since 2005 have the two come together so poetically. If you are a Morris-man or woman you will have been up since dawn, dancing and rejoicing, celebrating the release of Spring.
In Hastings Old Town, the capital of the East Sussex culture scene, we have gathered flowers, greens and specially-made wreaths to adorn our streets (Hawthorn blossom is called ‘May‘ because it will be picked at this time of year) and long, colourful ribbons to dress the houses, shops, pubs, cafes and churches.

 Bells, bangles, bikers, green men, green women, drummers, fiddlers, singers and sweepers, one and all prepare for the Jack in the Green parade, winding its green garlanded way around the old streets and on to Hastings Pier for more dancing and revelling.  

Everyone will be ‘a-maying‘ from sunrise to sunset. A Spring holiday of feasting (on local organic bread), drinking (on the local pub’s homemade beer) & cheering the most spectacular May Parade. 

Hooray! This is Hastings, no battles here. It’s alive with ‘ye olde world’ tradition and armfuls of green hugs. Come be merry-made…

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St Patrick’s Day  #StPatrick #Ireland #saint #March #mission #shamrock

The 17th March 2017 – 17.03.17 or, as styled in America, 03.17.17. Its all the same day.

St Patrick’s Day and the most important in the Irish calendar. 
Patrick is “the voice of the Irish.”

He is remembered by the wearing of a shamrock, for St Patrick is said to have used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity:

“The shamrock is one leaf in three parts, as God is one God with three parts: Father, Son and Spirit.”

Patrick fled to France and entered a monastery where he prepared to be a missionary.

After many years work he returned to Ireland and devoted his long life to the Christian mission. He died on 17th March 461 AD.

Every Saint has a story.


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Twitching #birds #calendar #Spring #song #March #wildlife #blog

Hello. This is not a tweet it’s…

my 200th Blog Post! and it’s dedicated to the poets and composers of the sky: Birds.

Take a look at these British Birds – poster babes or calendar chicks. After Winter, comes Spring and its time to start bird-watching. Here’s a lovely line-up of some of our favourites. Listen out for each unique tune…

Pay special attention in towns and cities, above the roar of traffic sing many a songbird. It’s a busy season: new buds, new grubs, new greens, new shrubs…keep ears and eyes open and support our wildlife. 
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Firstly… The 1st of March 2017 #daffodils, #leeks, #StDavid, #Lent, #AshWednesday, #Wales, #history #tradition

Today, the 1st March 2017 marks many points of calendar interest.

Firstly, March 1st is St David’s day, the patron saint of Wales. He is remembered by the wearing of a daffodil. However for many centuries the leek was regarded as the national emblem. But Why? 

Well glad you asked. St David is supposed to have won a great battle and ordered his soldiers to wear leeks as distinguishing marks.

The daffodil, or Lent lily, is probably related to the lily of France, for Welsh soldiers are believed to have brought it home after fighting the French battles of Henry V.

Also Welsh for leek = cennin and for daffodil = cennin Pedr … extremely close in spelling and sound.
Secondly March 1st of 2017 is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Some people may still follow the custom of ‘giving up certain foods’ during the Lent period.

Lent comes from the Saxon word ‘lencten‘ because the days of Spring are now ‘lengthening‘. The days are getting longer, we have more natural light!

The ‘Ash‘ refers to the ash from the palms of the previous year’s Palm Sunday. At church Lent starts with the marking of a cross with a finger dipped in ashes on the forehead of those attending.

It is important to remind ourselves, whether we partake or not, of the historical and religious connections of these named-day diary events…“Just in case you come tête-à-tête with a daffy!”


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In England – now! #England #Spring #blossom #seasons #poets #writers #weather

‘Seasons change winter to spring’ (so they sang in the film, Moulin Rouge).
Spring leading to summer warms the spirit and the pen, and becomes an inspirational and contemplative period for poets and writers, thinkers and dreamers, wanderers, followers and gatherers.

In May the world’s spin passes The Great Britain of temperate climate, through a gloriously green, flowery, abundant and prospectively fruitful season.  

Whether the weather brings sunny rapture or cloudy repulsion, there remains a gay, optimistic, signal of hope for this early part of the year.

From, Robert Browning, 1845

‘And after April, when May follows,

And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallow!

Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge

Leans to the field and scatters on the clover

Blossoms and dewdrops – at the bent spray’s edge- ‘


To, A. E. Housman, 1890, whose diaries cover two areas of interest, “the variety of the seasons – mainly Spring and Autumn – the weather, and the dates at which flowers come into bloom.”

“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough…

About the woodlands I will go 

To see the cherry hung with snow.”

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White Apple blossoms framed by the dotted blue of forget-me-nots, in England – now!


April awakens #April #poetry #Browning #Spring #travel

‘O to be in England

Now that April’s there,

And whoever wakes in England

Sees, some morning unaware,

That the lowest boughs and brushwood sheaf

Round the elm-tree bold are in tiny leaf,

While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough

In England – now!’

First verse of ‘Home-thoughts, from abroad’ by Robert Browning.

This poem was probably written at home in England in April 1845 when Browning was recalling his second tour of Italy

I am currently in South-West France, recalling and reviewing Spring photographs of England. This photo was taken not far from the Marylebone church in which Browning married Elizabeth Barrett in 1846: 170 years ago.  

The tree is a pink-cupped magnolia blossoming against a cobalt-blue sky.

This world is waking up from its winter slumber. Time to spring into action.

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London plays host to golden daffodils #London #parks #poetry #flowers #daffodils

Here is a delightful photo of bright and breezy daffodil heads bringing colour to the Royal Parks of London.
In the UK one can witness daffodils as early as December (East Sussex) and as late as late May (Perthshire, Scotland).

To celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 more golden daffodils were planted in Green Park and here they are in their floral glory.  

William Wordsworth wrote in 1804 a classic poet’s dedication to this supremely beautiful spring flower, with its open trumpet, framed frilly petals and long firm stem.  Ahh silence is golden.

‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ was inspired by the daffodils on The Lakes in Grasmere which William’s sister Dorothy had described in her journal of April 1802. It must also be recognised that many of the lines were hers. “I never saw daffodils so beautiful,” wrote Dorothy.

Here is a snippet:

‘… all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils’

‘… they stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.’

‘… a poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company.’

‘… they flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude ‘

(Wordsworth noted “the two best lines in it are by Dorothy”)

‘And then my heart with pleasure fills 

And dances with the daffodils.’

Every spring they rise again, a fitting metaphor for the symbol of Easter.

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‘The bluebell is the sweetest flower’

The Kent & East Sussex counties of England are embracing a soft touch of Spring rain allowing these peaceful purple & blue bells to stir in the wind. If they had a sound they would be a noisy clump! They carpet the deep, rich green woodlands as they have done for years, it is worth taking the car out just to catch sight of them.
American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-86) found her inspiration, across the Atlantic Ocean in New England, from that same little blue bud…

“It is the slight and stately stem
The blossom’s silvery blue
The buds hid like a sapphire gem
In sheaths of emerald blue.”

Short, simple & effective: this is the hardest kind of poetry…now one can look at this tiny flower with an even deeper affection.