Summer and Winter
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
It was a bright and cheerful afternoon,
Towards the end of the sunny month of June,
When the north wind congregates in crowds
The floating mountains of the silver clouds
From the horizon–and the stainless sky
Opens beyond them like eternity.
All things rejoiced beneath the sun; the weeds,
The river, and the cornfields, and the reeds;
The willow leaves that glanced in the light breeze,
And the firm foliage of the larger trees.
It was a winter such as when birds die
In the deep forests; and the fishes lie
Stiffened in the translucent ice, which makes
Even the mud and slime of the warm lakes
A wrinkled clod as hard as brick; and when,
Among their children, comfortable men
Gather about great fires, and yet feel cold:
Alas, then, for the homeless beggar old!
There’s quite a bit of holly (Ilex aquifolium) in Wrongs Covert. This is probably because it likes to hang out with beech and oak trees. Mature holly trees grow up to 15m and live for 300 years. You’ll probably remember the bright red berries that appear in the Summer lasting until mid-winter in some cases. This is pretty handy for the wildlife as they provide food for the birds, as well as woodmice and doormice when things get really cold.
Through the ages holly branches have been used to decorate homes in winter. The tree was also seen as a fertility symbol and a charm against evil spirits by many folks, including the druids. For this reason it was thought to be unlucky to cut down a holly tree.
This little chap is busy growing out of a clump of ivy on one of the fallen trees next to the river. It was so cold that morning that water was freezing within a few minutes.