November sees autumn gracefully fade. The garden is slowing down too. We watch a spectacular video of rooks flocking to their communal roosts and with the old Chinese poets we learn to end the day well.
.’…When Winter comes in earnest to fulfilJohn Clare’s Shepherds Calender —November
His yearly task, at bleak November’s close,
And stops the plough, and hides the field in snows;
When frost locks up the stream in chill delay,
And mellows on the hedge the jetty sloes,
For little birds — then Toil hath time for play,
And nought but threshers’ flails awake the dreary day.’
In Clare’s day the countryside was essentially a working landscape. He may speak of melancholy and sadness as autumn closes, but the gardener never does. No ‘threshers’ flails‘ are required today, thankfully, but in the garden there is plenty to do.
November is the month for planting tulips. With hands in touch with the earth, where they were meant be, and something of value invested in the soil there will be hope of a future display.
Out in the garden the early winter show of the Mahonia ‘Charity’ is getting underway joined by winter flowering cherry (above). Viburnum bodnantense, Winter honeysuckle and Wintersweet (Chimonanthus fragrans) will soon be adding their scent and colour. There is always promise in a garden.
The catalogues have started to arrive full of ideas for next year’s displays waiting in these packets.
Rooks – Ending the Day Well
As the light fades lines of rooks, with some jackdaws, are seen making their way towards the woods at Buckenham Carrs in Norfolk. They’ve come from all over Norfolk and parts of Suffolk as they have been doing since before humans came on the scene. This is one of the largest roosts in the country with up to 80,000 birds. The rook is a bird embedded within our rural British landscape. It was mentioned in the Doomsday Book. Richard Jefferies tells us that, in the past, country folk set their time by the sight of these streams of rooks making for their roosting sites at sundown,
Watch this spectacular display that takes place before the rooks settle into the trees like black rain, darkening the branches before quietness eventually settles over the wood again.
Watch this Norfolk Rook Roost
How we would love to know what is going on here. Instead, having ‘forgotten the words‘, we let it remain one of the secrets of nature and watch and wonder with the wisdom of this old Chinese poet:
“I built my cottage among the habitations of men,Tao Yuanming (4th century Chinese poet)
And yet there is no clamor of carriages and horses.
You ask: “Sir, how can this be done?”
“A heart that is distant creates its own solitude.”
I pluck chrysanthemums under the eastern hedge,
Then gaze afar towards the southern hills.
The mountain air is fresh at the dusk of day;
The flying birds in flocks return.
In these things there lies a deep meaning;
I want to tell it, but have forgotten the words.”
A Simple Lifestyle
In the spirit of Tao Yuanming’s poem I can live gently in this world, at peace and in harmony with earth’s seasons, with the daily movement of the sun and the passage of the flying birds. I can end the day well, in gratitude to my Creator who has my life and my best interests in his fatherly care. Jesus said:
‘Look at the birds of the air…your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than them?’Matthew’s Gospel 6:26
Thank you for visiting.
Top photo – November in Epping Forest by Roger Jones – Geograph