Saturday, 5 April 2014

Violets and Goldfinches and Happy Remembrances, and Happy Beginnings

Yesterday I saw violets and goldfinches for the first time this Spring. I have probably been unobservant, because the violets looked pretty well-developed, although I know that goldfinches, like the Holy Spirit, blow where they list. For me, they are happy creatures.

Violets were first pointed out to me by my Auntie Margaret when she came down to see us in Sussex one time, and went on a long walk with me through the woods and onto the South Downs. She said they reminded her of her childhood in rural Northamptonshire, after the long years she had spent in London with Uncle Jim. She was a lovely person. The first family (not by blood, but in her case, closer) member whose funeral I ever took. I wore my Oxford hood and said (which I thought daring at the time) "when we were growing up, Auntie Margaret was such an enthusiast for everything that we did, that there was absolutely nowhere the sun didn't shine".

Goldfinches were pointed out to me by Sister Helen Columba at Fairacres. Now in her late 80s (same generation as Auntie Margaret, although she would not consider herself to have been "spared" for longer), she was amused by my interest in birds when I came on retreat at the convent. She had a book of religious imagery and symbolism, and after one visit when I had waxed lyrical about them, she copied and sent me a page saying that the goldfinch, with its gregarious nature, and its red, gold, and black, colouring, was a symbol of the Holy Trinity.

What evocations of love and friendship, and yet I had missed them this Spring until now! Or, could it be, that they were biding their time until they could celebrate with all the joyful gay weddings going on since last weekend?

Richard Haggis
April 2014

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