Cowslips in the Wildflower Meadow

Spring Cowslips

The cowslips at Sun Rising are just beautiful at the moment.  Here’s a shot of the wildflower meadow, with young memorial trees beyond.  Each year, the cowslips spread, bringing not just the soft yellow colour, but important food for the bees and other insects, and a lift to the human soul as well.

Cowslips in the Wildflower Meadow

Cowslips in the Wildflower Meadow

You may be able to see, too, that we have taken the heavy tree protection off some of the older saplings this year.  Having nurtured these little trees from the beginning, I felt their vulnerability acutely, but after just a few weeks they are starting to settle, feeling stronger, especially in the spring sunshine.

The clay is cracking though, having had so little rain.  Even though it will be hard to lose the sunshine, if the rain does come this weekend we must celebrate its coming – the earth, trees and spring flowers do need it.

Sun Rising Wildflower Seeds

Wildflower Seeds

At Sun Rising we now have seed packs especially made for sowing at the natural burial ground.  Each pack is appropriate for either new woodland or meadow graves, and contains a mixture of wildflowers and grasses.  The price is £2.50 for a pack, and one pack would be suitable for one grave.  Of course, the seed can be sown elsewhere too.  Do let us know if you are interested.

Sun Rising Wildflower Seeds

Sun Rising Wildflower Seeds

Great Tit in the Wind

Spring Birdsong

It is so uplifting to wake in the morning to the sound of the dawn chorus again.  The adult males are sprucing themselves up in brighter courting feathers, and singing their hearts out each morning.  At Sun Rising, the loudest birds have been the song thrush and robins, but there are so many great tits and blue tits around.  The yellowhammer is easier to hear than to see, and the dunnocks and wrens are quieter, sneaking around in the still-bare branches of the hedges and trees.  I love this little fellow, somewhat undignified in a brief gust of wind.

Great Tit in the Wind

Great Tit in the Wind

The lichen is richly yellow behind him, and the little buds on the blackthorn can just be seen too.  There are now snowdrops and primroses in flower at Sun Rising, and the first few daffodils came into bloom yesterday.  With a few days of warm weather ahead, the spring growth will burst through.

Snowdrop

Snowdrops

The first signs of spring are so important in terms of lifting the heart and soul, especially when the cold and damp of an English winter are wearing us out.  Some families have been planting snowdrops ‘in the green’ on graves, and these are always quicker to come into flower than the bulbs.  For me, it is always the first showing of these little creatures in flower that makes the difference, bulbs that have been hiding under the growth of summer, then the cold earth of winter, whose first leaves are almost impossible to notice.  They flower as if at first terribly shy, faces to the ground, but slowly they find the confidence and strength to stand and shine.

Snowdrop

Snowdrop

Snowy Yellowhammer

Heading up to Sun Rising at 8 this morning through the snow, the sun was just beginning to break through the clouds, that pale blue of an English winter sky starting to come through.  The burial ground looked just beautiful.

Yellowhammer searching for food in the snow

Yellowhammer searching for food in the snow

I took a shot of this little fellow with robins, sparrows, dunnocks, blackbirds and tits, on and under the birdfeeders.  A rabbit was there too, looking a good deal warmer in fur than the rest of us.

If you go to Sun Rising, do be careful of icy patches.  Although the snow has mainly melted in the sunshine, out of the sun it is very cold and due to remain so.

The Trimmed Car Park Hedge at Sun Rising

Tidying the Hedge

Winter is a challenge for many.  It is not unusual for people to hold on through the summer months, to let go in the cold of winter, so it is a busy for funeral directors and natural burial grounds like ourselves.  Being outdoors in all weathers can be hard work, and where life is hard the need to find beauty and inspiration is greatest. At Sun Rising, the first shoots of daffodils leaves are coming through the grass.  Primroses are flowering on the occasional grave, hardy and determined, despite the heavy frosts.  Catkins are hanging from the bare branches of a few of our hazel trees, tight and pale at first, growing in in length until, honey-yellow, they open.  The tender new buds of growth on the dog roses are another sign that is heartening. A task of these cold winter months is to cut back the hedges.  Around the car park we’ve just done this, giving a tidy feel for the new growth to come.  Allowing a little curve on the top to avoid the unnatural straight lines created by the side-arm flails along the country lanes, we hope the hedge will bush up well this summer.  Maybe this time next year we’ll be able to lay the hedge.

The Trimmed Car Park Hedge at Sun Rising

The Trimmed Car Park Hedge at Sun Rising

Do let us know what signs of you spring you find at the burial ground and around the nature reserve?

Sneaky Seedeater

For the past few days, we’ve been watching a little muntjac at Sun Rising, snaffling up the birdseed under one of the big feeders.  I know they aren’t a native species, and there are debates about their impact on the environment, but this little one is beautiful.  And on a frosty day, with a sharp cold wind, who could stop her from filling her belly …

Muntjac eating Birdseed

Muntjac eating Birdseed

Carols at Sun Rising

Carols at Sun Rising

Over 130 people came to our carol concert at Sun Rising on Sunday last, and we were blessed with gentle dry weather throughout.  The choir were just marvellous, as were the mince pies, Christmas shortbread, and mulled wine, we shared afterwards.  We deeply appreciate the gift given us by the choir, not just of their music but the sharing and good will, thank you!  Thanks too to everyone who came along or supported in every way, bringing mince pies and the willingness to sing.

Carols at Sun Rising

Carols at Sun Rising

The choir was made up from Low Wimmin Singing and SYDNI Singers in Leamington Spa.  For more information about the choirs, do get in touch with Cathie Zara on cathiezara@gmail.com.

On top of the lovely energy, as a fundraising event, we made over £200 for The Friends of Sun Rising!  Thank you to all.

We’ll be at Sun Rising between 10 and 12.30 on Thursday 25 December, with mince pies and coffee, especially for those who are going to find Christmas Day difficult this year.

Dylan Thomas Evening

Not directly about Sun Rising, this is however an evening of Dylan Thomas poetry with donations collected for Oxfordshire hospices, organising by the Wychwood Poets.

http://allsortspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/celebrating-dylan-thomas-centenary-in.html

There will be readings of Dylan Thomas poems, and a few new poems, including one of mine, written in the old Welshman’s style and in his honour.

The date is Thursday 18 December, venue is the Blue Boar in Witney.  More details on the left hand panel when you click the link.  All are welcome.

Suffering the Fire

Suffering the Fire

A new novel has just been presented to us at Sun Rising.  ‘Suffering the Fire’ was written by Barry Hotson, who sadly passed away before its publication this last year.  Laid to rest at Sun Rising, half of the royalties from the book will be donated to The Friends of Sun Rising.

The book is based on and inspired by the 1974 Flixborough Disaster, Britain’s largest peacetime explosion until Buncefield in 2005.  I understand that it is a personal tale, about family and the way that we see the world changes when we go through crisis.  When I’ve read it, I’ll write a review!

Suffering the Fire

Suffering the Fire by Barry Hotson

The book is available through the usual channels : we would encourage you to order it from your local bookshop, but it is also available online.  Have a look at our web page : https://sunrising.co.uk/friends/barryhotson.html