Monday, May 7, 2007

Regency Flora and Fauna - May


I took the little gem that follows from the Naturists Diary of our period. My last excerpt from him was gloomy, but this really caught my imagination since he waxes so lyrical, and he also mentions heart's-ease which I just may have mentioned is the title of my recently completed manuscript. I tend to put this wildflower in April, but you know, Spring is coming earlier and earlier to England, so I really ought not to discount what was written in our period.

So, my diarists says: “We know little or nothing of the common flowers among the ancients; but as violets in general have their due mention among the poets that have come down to us, it is to be concluded that the heart's-ease could not miss its particular admiration,--if indeed it existed among them in its perfection. The modern Latin name for it is flos Jovis, or Jove's flower,--an appellation rather too worshipful for its sparkling little delicacy, and more suitable to the greatness of an hydrangea, or to the diadems of a rhododendron.

The name given it by the Italians is flammola, the little flame;--at least, this is an appellation with which I have met, and it is quite in the taste of that ardent people. The French are perfectly amiable with theirs:--they call it pensee, “a thought”, from which comes our word pansy:--

"There's rosemary," says poor Ophelia; "that's for remembrance;--pray you, love remember; and there is pansies,--that's for thoughts."

[What a great quote]

Milton in his fine way, gives us a picture in a word,--"The pansy freaked with jet." [Fabulous writing!] Another of its names is love-in-idleness, under which it has been again celebrated by Shakespeare in the "Midsummer's Night Dream."

All right, I’ll stop about the heart’s ease already and talk about some other sights in nature.


The butter-cup (ranunculus bulbosus) spreads over the meadows; the cole-seed (brassica napus) in cornfields, bryony (brionia dioica), and the arum, or cuckoo-pint, in hedges, now show their flowers.

Interestingly enough, at least to me, I have a very pretty scene in Heart’s Ease where mother and daughter make daisy chains and of course put the buttercup under each other’s chins to see if they like butter.

And this is the picture of a cuckoo pint in flower. Ugly right? And poisoness. You should see the fruit of this plant. Remind me to put it up in August if I forget.

But what about the fauna you ask. Well the naturist waffles on about insects, glow worms, which surprised me, because I never saw one in England growing up, crickets and May bugs which I can certainly remember. They are huge and they seem to fly straight at one's face.

He also talks about birds, and one in particular I thought quite interesting and not one I was familiar with:

The sedge-bird (motacilla salicaria)[This was the only picture I could find.] "This bird is found in places where reeds and sedges grow, and builds its nest there, which is made of dried grass, tender fibres of plants, and lined with hair. It sings incessantly night and day, during the breeding time, and imitates, by turns, the notes of the sparrow, the skylark, and other birds, from which it is called the English mock-bird." Who knew! England has a mocking bird.

The animal kingdom will have to wait until next time.

Until then, happy rambles.