Wednesday, 1 May 2013

May Day Inspirations

On my list of "things I'd like to do in 2013" is something that I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember. 'Seeing in the May' has been on a sort of unofficial list (this is the first year I have actually committed something to paper) since I read this passage in The Secret World of Polly Flint:

     "Polly's heart thudded hard. She strained into that milky half light and saw shapes making themselves, shadows blossoming. The May Dancers were coming, they were slipping into the upper world, running free of time!

      At first they were merely faint and ghostly, and then they took on a sepia tinge as in an old print, and she saw that the girls wore dresses all of white and garlands on their heads, and each was weaving a pattern; heel and toe they went about the boys, who stood staring straight ahead and motionless of statues. And all the while the bright ribbon that now miraculously crowned the pole was crissing and crossing to form the mazy pattern of a spider's web.

       .... All the time the dawn was inexorably breaking and the scene was lit with a thin wash of gold. The net of streamers glowed and the grass was all at once on fire and dazzling." 

The Secret World of Polly Flint, Helen Creswell

That image has haunted me over the years and I have often thought it would be nice to see in the first sunrise of the May. Usually, the comfort of my warm, cosy bed overrides my romanticised ideas so I have never achieved it before! I do like my bed.

This year I determined to be different. 

Last night, I checked the time of dawn - 05.42. I checked the forecast and saw that dawn should be clear. I looked at the map to find a suitable place that looked east. I set my alarm for 5am and promised myself that if the weather was as clear as the forecast said, I would go and see the sunrise.

When the alarm went off, I went through the normal battle with myself. If the birds hadn't been singing so loudly I might have given in but, after looking out of the window to see an already-lightening clear sky, I knew I'd regret it if I didn't go. After all, how often will May Day be clear?

So I jumped in the car and headed for the Somerset Monument at Hawkesbury Upton (the highest point I could find with a good view to the east). The sky was already tinted with pink as I arrived and the moon shone brightly towards the west (click on photos for a larger view).

Mist lurked over the fields and amongst the trees, and the grass was wet with dew. 

The warm glow of the rising sun slowly reached spread across the landscape and bathed the monument in soft pink light.

"Hal-an-tow, jolly rumbalow
We were up long before the day-O
To welcome in the summer,
To welcome in the May-O
The summer is a-coming in
And winter's gone away-O"

 Hal-An-Tow, Trad.                         

Happy May Day everyone.

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