The Country Diary of a GenX Woman

Nature Notes for 1906

CountryDiaryCoverThis is the true title of  ‘The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lad’y and is on the inside cover along with the first verse  of Byron’s Solitude.

“To sit on rocks, to muse o’er flood and fell,
To slowly trace the forest’s shady scene,
Where things that own not man’s dominion dwell,
And mortal foot hath ne’er or rarely been;
To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
With the wild flock that never needs a fold;
Alone o’er steeps and foaming falls to lean;
This is not solitude, ’tis but to hold
Converse with Nature’s charms, and view her stores unrolled.”

My “Country Diary” is  inspired by this book which my Godmother gave me when I was 12.

Edith Holden recorded in words and paintings the flora and fauna of the British countryside through the changing seasons of the year.  The author starts each month with a description of the month from different calendars and languages, lists the Saints’ Days, then any folk lore and mottoes, e.g. “In October dung your field, and your land it’s wealth shall yield.” and “If there’s ice in November that will bear a duck, there’ll be nothing after, but sludge and muck.”

For each month, she includes poems that resonate for the season and her drawings of the birds, butterflies, bees, flowers and fungus.  For each specimen she gives their common name and their Latin name, but no description.   She doesn’t have entries for every day, just writing on key events. e.g. in December she writes:

14 “Heavy fall of snow.”
20 “After a rapid thaw and four days of wonderfully mild, still weather, without wind or rain, the win has gone round to the east and it looks as if we might have  a frosty Christmas after all.”
25 “We woke to a snowy Christmas morning; sunshine later and a sharp frost at night.”
26 “Another heavy fall of snow in the night.”
27  “In the paper today it reports that all Britain lies under snow from John O’Groats to Land’s End for the first time for six years.”

The final entry for the year.

31 “Hogmanay. There is a rise in the temperature this morning, the wind has gone round to the southwest and there is every sign of an approaching thaw.  The papers report more falls of snow, outlying farms and villages in Yorkshire, East Lothian, and the Highlands are entirely isolated by the deep snow.”

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Inspired by The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady