Nuts In May

May 4th, 2007



Dear Mum,

Button to chin, till May be in  –  Ne’er cast a clout till May be out

It’s surprising how sound the advice in that old English proverb usually turns out to be. I imagine the unseasonably warm weather in the UK during April has led to a lot of clout-casting. But don’t go putting your thermal knickers in mothballs just yet. May can be a very unpredictable month.

Spring must be nearly over here in Cyprus, from a seasonal point of view anyway. And by that I mean that the dates of when the four seasons start and end vary according to which reckoning you use.

Never get involved in a discussion about this one. Everyone thinks they know the answer but there can never be a winner. Wars have started over less! Because usually, everyone’s right even though they all have different opinions. So let’s lay this one to rest.

In Astronomical reckoning, each season begins at the solstices or equinoxes.

Using Meteorological reckoning the four seasons begin on March 1st, June 1st, September 1st and December 1st.

And then there’s Traditional reckoning by which some countries determine for themselves when their seasons start and end, usually with a historical reason attached to it.

If you live in the tropics of course, none of this applies.

My own personal method of determining which season I’m currently experiencing is very simple. If I’m hot, it’s Summer. If I’m cold, it’s Winter. If I’m wondering why we’re only allowed to use mistletoe at Christmas, then it’s Spring. And if the 6.32 to Charing Cross gets cancelled because of leaves on the line  –  then it must be Autumn.

There’s a tree near where I live which has only just started to produce some new leaves. I thought it was dead! But it’s very much alive and sprouting  –  just been having a lie-in, that’s all. And the cherry blossom trees are in full bloom and are a magnificent sight. So I guess it’s still Spring here!

But I can’t help feeling that Summer is about to start with a vengeance. The thermometer has been creeping up towards 30ºC this week. I’ve already cast most of my clouts, and April’s only just finished. I’ll have to make a decision soon on tog ratings for my duvet; which in my case means  –  shall I use it or not?

Cherry blossom trees are such a beautiful sight in the Spring, but their flowering splendour never lasts very long. One good gust of wind, and all the petals get blown away. So I thought I’d photograph some of them while the petals are still attached.

I left all my camera equipment in the UK when I came out here, but Declan very kindly brought it with him last week. So at least I’ll be able to do it justice now.

I knew I’d need to make an early start to get the morning sunlight in order to capture the colours of the petals and the sky, and I also knew that there would be a problem with cars and people intruding into my masterpieces (everything starts very early here, even on a Sunday). So I decided that the best time to do it would be on Tuesday (the one just gone). It would be the Labour Day Bank Holiday here in Cyprus, so everyone would be having a lie-in. As long as the sun was shining, and the petals hadn’t done a runner, conditions would be perfect.

The big day arrived and I got up at 6am and looked out the window, only to find that there was quite a thick cloud cover. Hollihocks!

So I had a coffee, took the dog for a quick stroll, came home and had another coffee, and noticed that the clouds were dissipating and the sun was getting ready to come out and play.

Great! Just time for one more coffee, and off I went.

One of the spots I’d earmarked for photographing was about fifteen minutes walk, so I went there first and got some fantastic shots. The streets were deserted and there were hardly any cars around.

Then I walked down to St Lazarus Church which has a beautiful big cherry blossom tree outside it (not the one in the picture  –  that tree is no longer there). The height of the sun, and the shadows on one side of the tower were perfect. But wouldn’t you know it, there was a car parked right in front of the tree. It was about 7.30am by now.

So I waited to see if the driver returned. He’d left his windows open, so there was a good chance.

And fifteen minutes later, he did. And I got some great shots which I was looking forward to showing you today. Well I hoped I had anyway. I haven’t gone digital yet, so no instant results. Still using the old roll of film and wait-and see-how-they-come-out method.

It was a 36-exposure film, of which I’d used 30 frames. Bound to be something useable amongst that lot. I finished off the remaining 6 shots the following day, rewound the film and opened the back of the camera.

I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry! There was a film in it. I’d loaded the camera when I got up at 6am.

My only excuse is that it was very early in the morning and my brain wasn’t functioning quite as well as it’s occasionally been known to. I can’t think how else it could have happened. Maybe if I’d had more coffee! But I knew as soon as I took the film out of the camera that there was little point in taking it to be processed.

Because pink cherry blossom trees in the early morning sunlight with a spectacular shade of azure sky as a backdrop…

…really don’t look that impressive in black and white!


ps  if anyone says to you today “May the fourth be with you“, you have my permission to whack them with your lightsabre!

ps2  I’ve always thought it very unfortunate that people with a lisp are unable to pronounce their affliction!


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

‘Here we go gathering nuts in May’ is an old English song. Since when was it ever possible to gather nuts in May in the Northern Hemisphere? Nuts aren’t ready to be gathered until the autumn!

And just so you don’t feel hard done by, here’s a photo of Mum’s cherry blossom tree in Eastbourne!

click to enlarge


©MPB 04/May/2007


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