Sunday 1 May 2011: May Day garland
May Day or Beltane is a special day, as it is a celebrates of the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year. Beltane rituals would often include courting: for example, young men and women collecting blossoms in the woods and lighting fires in the evening. These rituals would often lead to matches and marriages, either immediately in the coming summer or autumn.
I photographed this natural wreath of May blossom early this morning by the river, when the light was soft and low. I considered rising at dawn, but was just a bit too tired, and the recent dry weather meant that there was no dew for face washing, another May Day tradition. The hawthorn blossom was truly at its peak today, and the cool morning air was scented with its perfume. The birds were in full song, and I heard at least five separate reed warblers and two sedge warblers on my walk, one of which can be seen
Most of the rest of the day has been spent giving Chris a tour of all the local highlights of spring that he missed out on while he was in China. We went to Bedford Purlieus and saw flowering Lily-of-the-valley and Herb Paris (thanks to Gladders for the reminder that they were flowering now). The Herb Paris was particularly impressive, with a minimum of 43 flowering plants in the colony.
Then off to Barnack to view the Pasque Flowers, We tried to photograph them - no easy task in a very brisk easterly wind! At Barnack we also saw Early Purple Orchids and Purple Milk-vetch, as well as the earliest Clustered Bellfower I've ever seen.
Inbetween the various field trips, Ben and I went to have our passport photographs taken at the local photobooth. Ben's was achieved effortlessly, but the machine couldn't seem to produce a passport compliant photograph of me. My face seems to be too round to fit in their standard oval, and my hair is far too wavy and sticks out in all the wrong places! Not quite sure how I'm going to get round this one!!