Nocturnal upon Saint Lucy’s Day.
‘T’is the year’s midnight and it is the days,
Lucy’s who scarce who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
The sun is spent and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
The world’s whole sap is sunk;
The general balm, th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither as to the bed’s feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr’d, yet all these seem to laugh
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.’ John Donne. 1572-1631
Poor John Donne was feeling a tad depressed when he wrote this poem to celebrate the shortest day, if ‘celebrate’ is quite the word to use. Before Britain switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, the 13th December marked the winter solstice. How this day became associated with the Catholic Saint Lucy, I am not sure. No doubt the Nordic pagan goddess of light was adopted by the Catholics and adapted to suit their beliefs. The Sicilian Saint Lucy met a suitably gory end and is often depicted holding a dish containing her eyeballs, which were supposedly gouged out before her death. The Catholic church enjoys a bit of blood and gore with its virgin saints’ myths.
In Sweden, Saint Lucie’s Day is celebrated as the one in which light returns to the earth. I wish it would hurry up. Today was one of those days when it never really got properly light at all. One feels that John Donne had a point.
To cheer myself up on Saint Lucy’s Day I have been dreaming of summer . One day in June, proud gardeners in our village opened their gardens to the public. Despite vowing never again to open my garden for the public, I got caught up in the excitement and joined in. Visitors came from far and wide to nosy round, (sorry enjoy) our gardens and more importantly to drink tea and eat cake. Garden opening has a way of concentrating the mind, so when the garden photographer, Guy Jordan came to take photos of the flurry of sprucing up, we hardly noticed him. With Guy’s permission I am sharing the photos he took of the garden.
Oh dear, I’m not sure about this first one; the rainbow chard has gone to seed and scarecrow Chloris is not looking her best. The photo was taken before she got her blonde wig and padded bra.
Guy was quite taken with my snail shells guarding eyeballs from the sharp sticks holding up the netting.
A quick mug of tea, but no time for sitting about.
The Lonicera nitida hedge is looking neat and tidy for once. I hacked great chunks of the Mahonia so that people could get through the little path leading round the big pond.
In the greenhouse my Epiphyllum was having its fleeting moment of glory.
I love the way Guy captured the light filtering through the branches of Acer drummondii.
He seemed to linger round the little pond.
Looking at the summer garden on a dreary December day is a great way to plan for the coming season. Next year the ox eye daisies you see in the first picture will have disappeared. I have a project planned for this area. So far it only exists in my mind and on sketches on scruffy bits of paper. But, oh what fun planning a new project is. There is nothing like it for the long dark winter days.
I hope your Saint Lucy’s Day is full of dreams and exciting projects too.