Sunday, March 16, 2014

grantchester in march

If there was ever a day to be in Cambridge and to walk out to Grantchester meadows, it was this one. I ran out towards the fields before 8. The sky was already Wedgewood blue and the sun Greek. As I ran – slowly; I’m not much of a runner – Vaughn Williams Lark Ascending came up on my ipod. A synthesizing of music and mood and landscape that fit like light jazz and a New York skyline, or blues and the South. I crouched down to the grass when I got to the village and saw the sunlight on the grassblades' unevaporated coating. In the distance, the river ran quiet and deep through monochromatic fields, and the single swan swimming its sole worshipper. The hedges and thickets were blooming: not all together but every odd bush exploded into flower. Plump doves and crows sat high on bare branches, and the tits and robins darted in the hedges. The lichens and mosses around the tree stumps are electric green. The pheasants and grouse call in mulish strangled squawks. I saw what the American naturalist William Bartam might call a ‘bomble bee’. It was the sort of Sunday that only is real in a nostalgic haze. I remember a day like this on Port Meadow, when I’d just arrived, and the quote from Waugh: “ was a day of peculiar splendour, such as our climate affords once or twice a year, when leaf and flower and bird and sun-lit stone and shadow seem all to proclaim the glory of God…”


Ian Wolcott said...

Very lovely. And God bless you for mentioning Bartram.

Shelf of One's Own said...

Thanks, Ian. I've just discovered Bartram! I remember hearing his name mentioned all the way through Cold Mountain (I believe), but am delighted to have found him to be a real naturalist.

Ian Wolcott said...

As a botanist and naturalist (though not as a writer), William’s father John was, if anything, more impressive. Andrea Wulf’s The Brother Gardeners, a popular history of botany and English gardening, has a lot to do with John Bartram, and is worth a read.