March 2017

When the weather permits I wander round the garden

with my feline companions, adjusting my pace to theirs.

I have watched the daffodils changing from upright spears

pointing to heaven and then bowing down

their golden heads in tribute to the soil from which they came.


While we were walking William Wordsworth’s poem came to mind:

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.


Instead of a lake we have ponds.

The lower one is now enhanced by frog-spawn

close to where the tall reeds grow.

When newly laid the spawn shines in the light

before sinking deeper into the water.

Perhaps our more creative thought is like that,

enlightening us, and then sinking into our depths,

only surfacing when it is ready to be shared.


Ash Wednesday was a few days ago

but today a couple of lines from a poem

by Robert Browning entitled "A Toccata of Galuppi’s"

written in 1855, surfaced after Mass.

"Dust and ashes, dead and done with,

Venice spent what Venice earned."

Our memories are both strange and wonderful.

Hidden deeply within the brain, quotations

sometimes rise unexpectedly from the depths ...

like bulbs from the earth in early spring.


8th March

The first reading at Mass today was about

Jonah who rebelled about his God-given mission

to preach to the people of Nineveh.

A storm at sea made Jonah admit to the sailors

that he was trying to escape from God.

They reluctantly threw him overboard

and "a great fish" swallowed him.

He was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights.

Jonah prayed to his God, who spoke to the fish

"which then vomited him onto the dry land."

In this mandala Jonah is in the mouth of the fish

just before he is ejected onto dry land,

landing, symbolically, at the foot of a wooden cross.

He then, reluctantly, went into Nineveh,

and accomplished his mission.

However, he was not pleased

that he had been so successful !


12th March

The garden birds are now singing before dawn.

The house cats come out for short walks with me

later in the day, although Goldie dashes out early,

before day-light, to drink cold water from the pond,

which glistens with frog-spawn.

Cat Murphy waits patiently under a garden bench

across the lawn, facing my window upstairs,

waiting for his breakfast.....

Why does he not eat at home ?


This is the season when the ladybirds and harlequins

are clustering the west-facing windows

in an attempt to get out into the garden again.

Many years ago I read a book with the title

"The Only Way Out is the Way In."

This obviously is not true for most insects.

I then researched the question

"Do insects have brains ?" on the internet.

The answer, according to Timothy Griffin, was

"Yes, insects do have a brain, though it doesn’t play

the same role as a human brain does.

The insect brain consists of three lobes,

each responsible for a different part of the body..."

Another contributor, David Starling,

wrote that the head deals with sight, smell and taste,

while the main nerve cord controls flight,

legs, hearing, digestion, reproduction and respiration.

Here endeth the lesson !

Naturally, I transport as many as I can outside.


The duck and drake are here again for their annual visit.

They fly in early in the morning, and depart later in the day.

They were nicknamed "William and Mary" some years ago.

This morning, and yesterday afternoon,

they came for the bread scattered for the birds.

They obviously have a good memory.

William always waits until Mary has had a her fill.


The camellia are now in bloom.

17th March

Rain began to fall early this morning.

Dave’s mother gave us her old sundial today.

It now positioned at the corner of the House facing north-south.

Earlier in the morning I saw the short-legged black cat

we call "Shadow" looking for food.

I took out a good helping for him.

In the meantime he hid himself, only emerging

when I had gone away.

The duck and drake, still earlier,

ran towards me when I went out to feed the birds.

Life in a monastery can be quite hectic!


22nd March

Warren Freeman came yesterday

to assess the cloister leakage.

He was relieved to discover the source of the problem:

the adjacent roof of the small guest room

was over-shadowed by an ilex tree

which had grown very tall during the last 20 years.

He and Dave worked very hard to remove

the over-hanging branches.

The light in the cloister improved immediately!


Sunday 26th

The birds were singing loudly before 5.00 a.m.

and the cats purred.

This Sunday has two names.

One is LAETARE, meaning REJOICE,

and the other is Mothering Sunday.

The liturgical name heralds the approach of Easter,

while Mothering Sunday was the day when

children working at some distance from home,

and their Mother Church,

would return for a special Spring-time visit,

which included both.


The golden daffodils seem to have a rota in which to flower.

Miniature daffodils bloom first in our garden,

followed by very large ones which, unfortunately,

are battered by the March winds.

Next come the specially cultivated ones

of paler shades and smaller trumpets.

Now the first dandelions, whose leaves resemble

"the teeth of lions" are beginning to flower.

But it is the violets which have bloomed longest of all,

close to the ground, and sometimes close to mossy stones.

William Wordsworth wrote about them in one of his poems:

"Violets by a mossy stone, half-hidden from the eye..."

It is strange how childhood poems linger, even in old age.

Violets in March

28th March

The month is now drawing to a close.

The clock has been put forward.

The early morning darkness is enlightened

by the singing of small birds while elsewhere

spiritual darkness reigns.

There is so much violence everywhere,

reaping a harvest of death and injury,

in most countries, including England.

Even the noise of a lawn-mower,

in a next door garden, can now sound threatening.

It was so yesterday, at Vespers.

But now, in the darkness of the coming dawn,

the birds sing .


Tulips in our garden March 2017.