Thursday, May 7, 2009

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain ~ May

By Michele Ann Young

In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

William Shakespeare


Must be the rain and the smell of green things making me wax lyrical this morning.

I must say, May always makes me think of dancing around the May pole on the village green. I just could not resist this picture, so antique looking and the little girls dresses are so sweet.

And of course one of the shrubs, bushes or trees most associated with May is the May tree. It's real name is the Hawthorn and it flowers in May at least in the south of England. In ancient times, Beltane or May Day celebrations, were when people and houses were decked with may blossoms ("bringing home the May"). The popular rhyme "Here we go gathering nuts in May" is thought to have been sung by the young men, gathering not "nuts" (which do not grow in May) but "knots" of may blossoms for the May Day Celebrations. These celebrations included a May Queen, representing the Goddess, and a Green May, representing the God and the spirit of the new vegetation. It was known as the "Merry Month" and folk went about "wearing the green", decking themselves in greenery and may blossom.


Some of these traditions, although pagan, continued long into our era, although the church repressed the more sensual erotic side of the celebrations. Hawthorn was everywhere in England, particularly in the hedges so the sight of white blooms would have been beautiful and still is in some areas.

And of course May is a great time for nesting birds. Our Naturists says this:
The spotted fly-catcher (muscicapa grisola), the most mute and familiar of all our summer birds, builds in a vine or sweet-briar, against the walls of a house, or on the end of a beam, and sometimes close to the post of a door.


What our naturists doesn't say, is that this little bird is very clever. It can tell the difference between a cuckoos egg and one of its own, which some other birds, like the dunnock, cannot.

Well much as I would like to continue this ramble, since there would be so many more things to tell you about May in England, chores are calling.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.