JUNE

JUNE

Isn’t June a lovely time of year? It’s true that we generally are awakened by young jackdaws squabbling noisily in our back garden at about 5 am, but the times are so lovely you don’t really mind. The sun is high in the sky and everything seems to be stretching heavenwards.

In the garden there’s fragrant honeysuckle and the heady philadelphus. The roses are all beauty and scent. The lawn is green and tender (and at the stage of will-you-credit-how-fast-that-grass-grows.)Lupins stand tall in the border. There’s a whole stand of foxgloves under a tree. The air is full of birdsong.

The first little family of newly fledged blue tits came en masse to the feeders this morning. They were all tweeting excitedly and had to be shown what to do by their parents. We have starlings, blackbirds (who eat our gooseberries), thrushes, great tits, sparrows, jackdaws, crows, and magpies.

The garden is full of activity and life.

I lie on the swing in the shade and just let everything slip quietly by. June will be gone for another year before we even know it.

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SCHOOL, IN JUNE?

I have always loved June.

In Scotland, after the darkness of winter, it was a time of endless light.   We went to bed in full daylight and any time you woke in the night, everything was bright and waiting for you.   It was usually warm, and the dreaded midgies had not yet amassed the full strength of their annoying army.      Birds toiled ceaselessly to feed their growing nestlings.   The swallows who had survived their legendary migration would show off their acrobatic manoeuvres above our heads.   Honeysuckle would  scent the air.    Any lime trees would be electric with the buzz of bees.     Although the hawthorn is called ‘May’, often the hedgerows would be white with it well into June.   It was a time of light, warmth and  plenty and I loved it as  a girl.

When we had young children ourselves, we would sneak them out of school a  week or so early (and  don’t anyone tell me this damaged their education: they went to Glasgow, Oxford and Manchester universities respectively) and set off with our caravan on our own great migration.   Starved of sun over the long winter, we would crave its warmth.   We would descend down the map, out of Scotland and the frozen North, through the pleasant, green England, across the Channel, and into France.   Then, near some beach, or on an island in the Loire, our children in their turn as I had done, would bask in the perpetual light, getting up early, going to bed late and rejoicing in the life giving sun.   It was the time of noisy frogs and the repetitive cuckoo.   The living was easy.   We had survived the winter.

So there’s June for you.    And here’s a poem written by Robert Bain on the unfairness of being forced to attend school at that time, with which as a girl I heartily agreed.   I have made a rough translation, should you require one, but it has its own beauty in the vernacular.

Schule in June

By Robert Bain

 

There’s no a clood in the sky,
The hill’s clear as can be,
An’ the broon road’s windin’ ower it,
But – no for me!

It’s June, wi’ a splurge o’ colour
In glen an’ on hill,
An’ it’s me wad be lyin’ up yonner,
But then – there’s the schule.

There’s a wude wi’ a burn rinnin’ through it,
Caller an’ cool,
Whaur the sun splashes licht on the bracken
An’ dapples the pool.

There’s a sang in the soon’ o’ the watter,
Sang sighs in the air,
An’ the worl’ disnae maitter a docken
To yin that’s up there.

A hop an’ a step frae the windie,
Just fower mile awa,
An’ I could be lyin’ there thinkin’
O’ naething ava’.

Ay! – the schule is a winnerfu’ place,
Gin ye tak it a’ roon,
An’ I’ve no objection to lessons,
Whiles – but in June?

Here’s a translation, if you need one, but it’s better in the dialect:

School in June.

There’s not a cloud in the sky

The hill’s as clear as can be,

And the brown road winding over it,

But – not for me.

It’s June with a splurge of colour

In glen and hill,

And it’s me would be lying up yonder,

But then – there’s the school.

There’s a wood with a stream running through it,

Clear and cool,

Where the sun splashes light on the bracken,

And dapples the pool.

There’s a song in the sound of the water,

Song sighs in the air,

And the world doesn’t matter a docken

To one who’s up there.

A hop and a step from the window,

Just four miles away,

And I could be lying there thinking

Of nothing at all.

Yes, the school is a wonderful place,

Taken all round,

And I’ve no objection to lessons,

Sometimes – but in June?

(A docken is a weed that grows freely and is difficult to uproot, so a worthless, undesirable thing.   Its leaves however provide a soothing antidote to nettle stings.)