Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Richard Jefferies - The Pageant of Summer

This photo is a favourite of mine, it captures the autumn spider's delicate web attached to an old cow parsley stalk. But if you enlarge the photo, by clicking on it, you will notice the small beads of sparkling morning dew that cluster along the web and in the plant. As a child, the dancing motes of dust caught up in a shaft of sunlight, always led my mind to think of smaller and smaller worlds captured in each particle of dust. This I suppose was an imperfect understanding of infinity, that the one earth we live on could be but only one dimension of an even greater whole. The small beads of dew remind me of this, they are lit by the early morning sun which is behind the camera, a sun that as it rises colours everything a soft rosy glow, highlighting warm colours in the grass and leaves of the trees, so that even my black and white dog is transformed as well.... and so to Jefferies and his green rushes, plant of damp and boggy ground....

"Green rushes, long and thick, standing up above the edge of the ditch, told the hour of the year as distinctly as the shadow on the dial the hour of the day. Green and thick and sappy to the touch, they felt like summer, soft and elastic, as if full of life, mere rushes though they were. On the fingers they left a green scent; rushes have a separate scent of green, so, too, have ferns, very different to that of grass or leaves. Rising from brown sheaths, the tall stems enlarged a little in the middle, like classical columns, and heavy with their sap and freshness, leaned against the hawthorn sprays. From the earth they had drawn its moisture, and made the ditch dry; some of the sweetness of the air had entered into their fibres, and the rushes--the common rushes--were full of beautiful summer. The white pollen of early grasses growing on the edge was dusted from them each time the hawthorn boughs were shaken by a thrush. These lower sprays came down in among the grass, and leaves and grass-blades touched. Smooth round stems of angelica, big as a gun-barrel, hollow and strong, stood on the slope of the mound,their tiers of well-balanced branches rising like those of a tree. Such a sturdy growth pushed back the ranks of hedge parsley in full white flower, which blocked every avenue and winding bird's-path of the bank. But the "gix," or wild parsnip, reached already high above both, and would rear its fluted stalk, joint on joint, till it could face a man. ......"

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