The fleeting month of May…

As I left the house this morning, I noticed the dog rose has started to flower. It scrambles determinedly through our thick front hedge, and every year it provides a little haven for the bees and the butterflies who adore it, as do I. The flowers are so fragile and delicate, a pale creamy, pink and yet the plant as a whole has teeth, on the edges of its leaves and in its sharp thorns. It reminds me of the Strength card in the Tarot deck, which often depicts roses.

This was the first dog rose I noticed in our garden, but in the last 5 years, two more have arrived. Sometimes in the garden, the things that I really love have a habit of multiplying, like the foxgloves and the forget-me-not and the cow parsley. If we love a thing, maybe we encourage its abundance.

Seeing the dog rose in flower, made me think how fleeting May is, every year no sooner has it arrived, it seems like it has gone again, as we hurtle ever quicker towards the summer solstice.

It made me think of the beautiful poem ‘Summer’ by John Clare and its reference to the clock-a-clay, which I believe is a lady bird, but I never knew this when I first read this poem a few years ago. I read the clock-a-clay literally as time, creeping upon the open blooms of May, and it felt to me like it captured the fleeting and mercurial nature of May perfectly. Spring has slipped through our fingers with the last of the daffodils, with its ever-lengthening light and its busy, busy buds and bowers, rolling ever faster into summer.

‘Like the hedge rose that is broken in the heat of the day’ – the light and heat of May can be a little too much, even for some of its most beautiful children.

Come we to the summer, to the summer we will come, 
For the woods are full of bluebells and the hedges full of bloom, 
And the crow is on the oak a-building of her nest, 
And love is burning diamonds in my true lover’s breast; 
She sits beneath the whitethorn a-plaiting of her hair, 
And I will to my true lover with a fond request repair; 
I will look upon her face, I will in her beauty rest, 
And lay my aching weariness upon her lovely breast. 
The clock-a-clay is creeping on the open bloom of May, 
The merry bee is trampling the pinky threads all day, 
And the chaffinch it is brooding on its grey mossy nest 
In the whitethorn bush where I will lean upon my lover’s breast; 
I’ll lean upon her breast and I’ll whisper in her ear 
That I cannot get a wink o’sleep for thinking of my dear; 
I hunger at my meat and I daily fade away 
Like the hedge rose that is broken in the heat of the day. 
And here we are, at the edge of May, come at last to the summer.
Haile x o


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