Abloom and Afresh

Welcome, maids of honor, You doe bring in the spring, And wait upon her. ~Robert Herrick, 'To Violets'

There is something in the air today that feels like England. I caught its fragrance this morning the moment I opened the windows. A greenness that you could smell, inhale, be nourished by. A great leaping joy in growing things and in the songs of the birds. And when I took my little constitutional after breakfast, I could almost imagine that I was there–if I stopped and closed my eyes my sweet white-throated sparrow might just be an English robin and the grass beneath my feet the satiny verdure of a hill pasture in Cornwall. Even the aroma of the barn as I passed it, the ‘rich, ovine scent’, to paraphrase Mr. Herriot, was full of happy associations. The sky was overcast with a pale curtain of light-filled clouds, a strange sort of relief from the almost unbearably lovely April days of blossom and sunshine we’ve been enjoying, and I was glad to need the little sweater that I had grabbed on my way out the door.

Then it began to rain, the sweetest, silvery-est shower, and it felt more like England than ever. The moisture seemed to coax the heart out of every mingled fragrance abroad–cut grass and violet banks and crabapple blossoms and green leaves–decanting it all as it were into an intoxicating libation of Spring. I passed the goats and sheep on the way back to the house, running as joyfully towards their shelter as I was for my own, and I laughed out loud.

There’s not one spot on all the face of this earth that I would rather inhabit at this moment than the one that I am on.

I’ve traded the coquetry of May and the poignancy of September for the charms of the Blessed Plot and hardly glanced back over my shoulder. I’ve left my roses blooming to wander in a daze through the gardens of the Cotswolds and I’ve gladly exchanged summer’s last giddy fling to feel the breath of autumn on my face in Oxford.

But I just don’t think that I could trade the magic of April for any other splendors that this world affords. Even the world that is England and is as dear to me as native turf. Browning taunts me, as he does each year, with his plaint, Oh, to be in England, now that April’s there! But I feel sure that if I missed all this sweetness and light, these heaven-fresh mornings and sun-shot twilights and this greening of the bit of earth that is my own, I’d be just as homesick for it as Browning himself was for his ‘blossomed pear tree’ and ‘wise thrush’ .

...and scatters on the clover blossoms and dewdrops..." Robert Browining, 'Home Thoughts from Abroad'

There is a sweet alchemy at work in my world. Trees watched anxiously have burst into flower and leaf while we glanced away. Old friends have shown their first blossomed faces in my flower garden and grape vines that looked devoid of life a week ago are covered with tiny flags of foliage. We’ve been hard at work every Saturday–in the wind and the sun, with farmers’ tans to prove it–clearing away the debris of a long winter and preparing for the glad season to come. The beehives have been painted afresh. The barn foundation has been jacked up and replaced. The beds have been cleared in my vegetable garden and are waiting to welcome the seeds of summer towards the middle of next week.

And there’s been a mirrored image of it all in own heart, it seems. A renewing of the mind. A needful pruning. A tending and nourishing of faith. It is no exaggeration to say that this was the most meaningful and probing Lenten season that I have ever known–and how the sadness of winter’s last hold seemed to underscore it all!

But the beauty of April has heralded the beauty of the Resurrection in a way that I will never forget. Easter morning seemed lentย  from Heaven itself, so fresh and lovely and full of joy. The church service was a glorious pageantry of trumpets and incense and a Cross so wreathed in flowers as it made my eyes well to look at it. The lingering resonance of an angelic descant and the great, glad, joyous pealing of bells as we stepped out into the sunshine.

And there we were met with the music of the birds, just as joyful; the garlanding of flowers upon the dogwood trees; the sweet incense of Life in God’s awakened world.

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable Gift.

8 Responses to “Abloom and Afresh”

  1. Joel Odom says:

    Abloom and Yellow-Green. Thank God for the rain to wash all the pollen away!

  2. Lisa says:

    Gorgeous! Just how I feel about this Easter. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Jodi Lenz says:

    Thank you Lanier, that was a lovely read. Bron and I are planning to gather up the wild violets on our property so to make some candied violets to top our annual spring fairy cakes.

  4. Jessica says:

    That was so beautiful to read…thank you.

  5. Josie Ray says:

    There is only one sprig of blooming lilac in this room with me, but the room is filled with the scent. So lovely and delicate! Like your spring rain.

    Beautifully written. And I agree about not being able to travel away in April. We have, in earlier years, planned trips to the shore in April–those first warm days!–and then cancelled them so as not to miss one day of the flower procession.

  6. Josie Ray says:

    Have you ever had a Midsummer’s Night dance in your barn, as Tasha Tudor did each year? If not, perhaps you should have one this year, and share the photos with us. ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, I would do it myself, it sounds so charming, except the barn is lacking. What do you suppose she did with her goats that night?

    • Lanier Ivester says:

      Well, as much work as we’ve done on our old barn it’s not quite dance-worthy. That has long been a goal, however. And hopefully a not-too-distant one! ๐Ÿ™‚ I will keep you posted!
      And I wonder if the goats didn’t just come to the party and kick up their heels with everyone else? Mine sure would love to…

Leave a Reply

Please leave these two fields as-is: