sinking into a sea of grasshopper sound
National Meadows Day
6th July 2018
National Meadow Day (Saturday 6th July) found the Stone and Water team loitering in the dry but beautiful meadows of the Upper Dove Valley, revelling in the sweep of grass, sudden flutters of butterflies and swallows flickering overhead. In a partnership with with the Dove Valley Centre, South West Peak’s Glorious Grasslands project and Buxton Museum and Art Gallery’s BM125 project, our Summer Excitements! project got off to a hot and flowery start
During the day, there were meadow walks and river dipping, insect drawing and book-building, time to talk and sit and enjoy the atmosphere of an ancient meadow under the wide skies in that peaceful valley.
Our Summer Excitements! project will see events running through the South West Peak area. Other event themes will include old buildings, local wildlife and the value of picnics. Other Excitements! events can be found here
Meadows are part of our agricultural heritage as much as any old farm tools or buildings or ancient farmers. Their use, management, decline and recognition reflect our own awareness of the importance of our agricultural landscapes. You may find old scythes and seed drills in a museum, you may even find a toothless ol’ farmhand, but a meadow needs the earth beneath its roots and the weather that ruffles the grasses. You won’t find a meadow in a museum and they cannot be collected. They can be protected, grown and valued as places where history, culture and wildlife coincide. As well as experiencing the meadow for themselves we invited visitors to think, reflect and record their thoughts about the importance of such places both to themselves as individuals and within the landscape.
Those reflections became lines within a poem growing out of a hot, dusty afternoon among the grass stalks…..
Into a field rustling and bustling with life,
Into the froth of grass,
Into a sea of grasshopper sound,
A dream where nothing changes.
The cows sleeping under a willow
Have been resting there for centuries.
Memories are rooted in these meadows,
In the fleeting lives of butterflies,
In nodding seedheads,
In thistledown drifting on a hot breeze.
Farms, families, paths, tools and stories,
All knitted to the earth as tightly as the turf.
Childhood holidays rooted here too,
New names, first meetings,
Stonechats, curlews, those grasshoppers again.
The rhythm of a scythe echoes across centuries
They walked where we walk,
Those old farmers on a summer day,
The slice and hiss of a blade and
The whetstone that hones the edge,
Finding shade under these same trees,
Cutting the waving grass from the same sward.
Harebell and cranesbill
Selfheal and tormentil,
Scabious and burnet,
The names are an enchantment
A spell for a meadow,
Whispered on a dusty wind
Colour, scent, pollen and promise,
Fescue, vernal and bent
The rooted and the free
Meadow brown and large white
Ringlet and tortoiseshell,
Prayers between earth and sky.
Futures are rooted in this rare and ancient place,
Still growing memories
Having fun in the river, catching insects,
A diving beetle!
Knapweed and burnet nod purple heads
Studding the rippling ribbons of colour
Black medick nods, yellow heads in the hot dry grass.
Seeds of the future in a rare and ancient place,
Lose the meadow and the memories wither too,
The cows across the field will sleep only in the present.
And here is a set of small pieces that didn’t quite fit into the larger poem
1. Bumblebees embroider the meadow
Knotting threads with flight paths
Charting by pollen, by nectar, colour coding
Scent-coding, the maps of their lives.
2. Yellow rattle whispers,
Dry and sandy,
Small bones in a bag,
A snake’s angry warning.
3. Bony fingers in the tops of the ash trees
Point a warning to the future
4. Falling sky splinters
Into scabious and cornflower blue,
While tormentil nestles in the grass,
Droplets of sunshine on the green
5. The promise of memories to grow with the hay
The dread of fields empty of hope
With many thanks to all our hay meadow artists and poets
and our partners on this rewarding day
Stone and Water thanks South West Peak
and The Bingham Trust for their support