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Edith Holden's Nature Notes

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A Lark Rise Christmas
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A Christmas Present From the Albion Band
Christmas Album : the Albion Band
An Albion Christmas
Winter Songs
Folk Rock For Good
Christmas Truce / Kerstbestand 1914
Household Words
A Garland Of Carols
All The Year Round
st agnes fountain
The Pickwick Papers. Chapter XXVIII
The Pickwick Papers. Chapter XXIX
The Pickwick Papers. Chapter XXX
A Christmas Tree
Once In Birmingham City
Edith Holden's Nature Notes
Carolling and Crumpets

December 1905

December [click for larger image]

In the Roman calendar, the year was divided into ten months; the last of which was called December or the tenth months ; and this name was retained for the last or twelfth month of the year as now divided. The Saxons called it 'Winter - monat' or Winter month, and "Heligh - monat, - Holy month, from the fact that Christmas falls within it. The 22nd of December is the date of the winter solstice, when the sun reaches the tropic of Capricorn.

Dec. 3.   Since I hung the cocoa-nut up to the ledge of the birds breakfast-table a few days ago, the Tom-tits have been much more numerous. Hardly an hour of the day, but one or more of them is to be seen, working away inside the shell

Dec. 7th.   I have been counting how many different kinds of birds come to to be fed every morning. So far I have counted nine. Sparrows of course are far more numerous than any other variety ; then come Starlings, then Tom-tits - three varieties, - Great Tits, Blue Tits and Cole Tits, then Hedge-sparrows, Robins, Blackbirds and Thrushes. I have seen a big black Rook hovering about once or twice, but he has never summoned up courage to alight so near the house.

Dec. 18th.   The weather up till now has been mild and open, we have had only one slight snow-shower this winter and only one spell of severe frost.

Dec. 25th.   - Christmas Day. Mild and spring-like. Three Primroses in bloom in the garden

Dec. 29th.   Two rainy days in succession, the first we have had for many weeks.

Dec. 31st.   Bitter east wind and black frost. Walked to Elmdon park ; On the way saw a large fox, quite grey in colour trotting across a field. He stood to have a long gaze at us and then promptly disappeared into a wood at the edge of the field
Berried Holly very plentiful this winter

"Tonight the winds begin to rise
           And roar from yonder dripping day
           The last red leaf is whirled away
The Rooks are blown about the skies. "
Tennyson

The Robin. EBH [click for larger image]

The Robin. part 2. EBH [click for larger image]

The Owl.  Tennyson [click for larger image]

Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,
And the winter winds are wearily sighing:
Toll ye the church bell sad and slow,
And tread softly and speak low,
For the old year lies a-dying.
Old year you must not die;
You came to us so readily,
You lived with us so steadily,
Old year you shall not die.

He lieth still: he doth not move:
He will not see the dawn of day.
He hath no other life above.
He gave me a friend and a true truelove
And the New-year will take 'em away.
Old year you must not go;
So long you have been with us,
Such joy as you have seen with us,
Old year, you shall not go.

He froth'd his bumpers to the brim;
A jollier year we shall not see.
But tho' his eyes are waxing dim,
And tho' his foes speak ill of him,
He was a friend to me.
Old year, you shall not die;
We did so laugh and cry with you,
I've half a mind to die with you,
Old year, if you must die.

He was full of joke and jest,
But all his merry quips are o'er.
To see him die across the waste
His son and heir doth ride post-haste,
But he'll be dead before.
Every one for his own.
The night is starry and cold, my friend,
And the New-year blithe and bold, my friend,
Comes up to take his own.

How hard he breathes! over the snow
I heard just now the crowing cock.
The shadows flicker to and fro:
The cricket chirps: the light burns low:
'Tis nearly twelve o'clock.
Shake hands, before you die.
Old year, we'll dearly rue for you:
What is it we can do for you?
Speak out before you die.

His face is growing sharp and thin.
Alack! our friend is gone,
Close up his eyes: tie up his chin:
Step from the corpse, and let him in
That standeth there alone,
And waiteth at the door.
There's a new foot on the floor, my friend,
And a new face at the door, my friend,
A new face at the door
The Death of the Old Year, Tennyson

Edith Holden 1871 - 1920

In rigorous hours, when down the iron lane
The redbreast looks in vain
Fror hips and haws,
Lo ; shining flowers upon my window pane
The silver pencil of the winter draws.
 
When all the snowy hill
And the bare woods are still
When snipes are silent in the frozen bogs
And all the garden garth is whelmed in mire,
Lo, by the hearth, the laughter of the logs -
More fair the roses, lo, the flowers of fire !
- 'Winter'. R.L. Stevenson

Saints' Days etc.

Dec. 24.   Christmas Eve
 
Dec. 25    Christmas Day
 
Dec. 27    St. Thomas' Day
 
Dec. 31    New Years Day

Mottoes :

" In December keep yourself warm
and sleep. "

"Bounce buckram velvets' dear,
Christmas comes but once a year;
And when it comes, it brings good cheer,
But when it's gone it's never near."

"That time of year thou may'st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do bang
Upon those boughs, which shake against the cold
Bare, ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang."
- Sonnet. Shakespeare

Heap on more wood ! - the wind is chill,
But let it whistle as it will,
We'll keep our Christmas merry still ;
' Twas Christmas broached the mightiest ale ;
' Twas Christmas told the merriest tale ;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man's heart through half the year."
Sir Walter Scott

" Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviours' birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long,
And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad ;
The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm
So hallow'd and so gracious is this time. "
Shakespeare

When icicles hang by the wall,
    And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
  And Tom bears logs into the hall,
    And milk comes frozen home in pail,
  When blood is nipp'd and ways be foul,
  Then nightly sings the staring owl,
                Tu-whit;
  Tu-who, a merry note,
  While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
 
When all aloud the wind doth blow,
    And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
  And birds sit brooding in the snow,
    And Marian's nose looks red and raw,
  When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
  Then nightly sings the staring owl,
                Tu-whit;
  Tu-who, a merry note,
  While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
Shakespeare

So, now is come our joyful'st feast;
    Let every man be jolly;
Each room with ivy leaves is drest,
    And every post with holly.
Though some churls at our mirth repine,
Round your foreheads garlands twine;
Drown sorrow in a cup of wine,
    And let us all be merry
.

The Mistletoe (Viscum album) is one of a family of parasites. In England it is most abundant on the Apple-tree, more rarely on the Oak. The berries are eaten by most birds, particularly by the Missel-thrush, to which it gives its' name. It is through the agency of the birds the the plant is propagated ; the visous nature of the fruit causes it to adhere to the birds' beak, and in the birds efforts to rid itself of the stick substance, by wiping its' beak against a tree, the seeds are transferred to the bark. The Druids held Mistletoe in great reverence. Pliny says they esteemed it as a gift sent from heaven and held the tree on which it was found as sacred. He says too they called it "All-heal"

holly and common ivy. EBH [click for larger image]

[click for larger image]

[click for larger image]

a note: all spelling, grammer and punctuation are those of Edith Holden, in transcribing her words to this page, we haven't changed a thing. Merry Christmas to one and all!

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