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China Girl blog 3rd May 2017

Today is the first day of summer;  May 1st the Pagan festival of Beltane, when country people lit bonfires and drove the cattle between them. The flames, ashes and smoke would protect the cattle, crops and people during the coming year. It was a festival of optimism.

Last Friday,we had a coach-load of French and English people from a Twinning Association. We gave them a delicious lunch and the day went well, only spoilt by the cold weather. The French have peculiar habits and some of them dunked bread in their wine, but Ma said “vive la difference!”

Dearest went round the garden with a forester who worked for the Woodland Trust, she picked up a few tips. He discovered a tall elm tree which had not got Dutch Elm Disease; he reckoned it is about 50 years old. He wondered how the beetle had not discovered it, or is it immune? All these awful diseases are brought into our tiny precious island from far-flung places.

At last rain, after nearly a month the heavens opened. Mother said we gardeners are never happy and as we prayed for it to stop, she reminded me yet again that rain is the tears of angels.

The garden is full of bird song. Robert Browning’s lines come to mind as his lovely verse spring to memory, when we see the thrushes on the lawn, searching for worms.

“That’s the wise thrush – he sings each song twice over, lest you should think he never could recapture the first fine careless rapture”

Dearest Mother feels that summer is still a few weeks away but for now, with the lovely white tulips still in flower and the glorious simplicity of the garden structure, she likens it to a medieval illumination.