Bluebells with the Brontes

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While taking my little dog, Toffee, for her walks this week, I have been thinking about WPC’s cue for my blog ~ ‘Earth’.

It struck me as I wandered across the park and through the woods near my home, just how marvellous the earth is at recovering from what nature, and we humans, subject it to.

We had a short cold spell when the grass was covered in frost and the earth in the woods was as hard as rock underfoot and twisted ankles were a real danger.  Then as the long and wet winter dragged on, the grass became waterlogged and sodden, and the woods were a quagmire with mud.  But through it all, the snowdrop, crocus and daffodil bulbs survived, and bloomed.  When the weather turned milder a few weeks ago, the blackthorn hedgerows were covered in blossom and the daisies started to appear.  Then, just in time for Easter, the sun came out and transformed everything.

Suddenly the grass over the park is green and dry and covered in bright yellow dandelions alongside the daisies.  In the woods the mud has dried up and carpets of bluebells have miraculously appeared in vast swathes of violet among the weeds, ferns and tree roots.  The smell is wonderful and indescribable.

I can see why they are called the fairy flower, they are just so delicate and beautiful and seemingly appear from nowhere.  They seem to speak of childhood and innocence.

As I wandered with my puppy, a poem started to form in my mind.  Then it struck me that many poets, including Shakespeare, have crafted lovely verse about Bluebells, which I could never match.

So, I will include a couple of my favourites here from the Bronte sisters.

Firstly, a really poignant poem by Anne Bronte who suffered so much sadness in her adult life and died far too young.

A fine and subtle spirit dwells
In every little flower,
Each one its own sweet feeling breathes
With more or less of power.


There is a silent eloquence
In every wild bluebell
That fills my softened heart with bliss
That words could never tell.

Yet I recall not long ago
A bright and sunny day,
‘Twas when I led a toilsome life
So many leagues away;

That day along a sunny road
All carelessly I strayed,
Between two banks where smiling flowers
Their varied hues displayed.

Before me rose a lofty hill,
Behind me lay the sea,
My heart was not so heavy then
As it was wont to be.

Less harassed than at other times
I saw the scene was fair,
And spoke and laughed to those around,
As if I knew no care.

But when I looked upon the bank
My wandering glances fell
Upon a little trembling flower,
A single sweet bluebell.

Whence came that rising in my throat,
That dimness in my eye?
Why did those burning drops distil —
Those bitter feelings rise?

O, that lone flower recalled to me
My happy childhood’s hours
When bluebells seemed like fairy gifts
A prize among the flowers,

Those sunny days of merriment
When heart and soul were free,
And when I dwelt with kindred hearts
That loved and cared for me.

I had not then mid heartless crowds
To spend a thankless life
In seeking after others’ weal
With anxious toil and strife.

‘Sad wanderer, weep those blissful times
That never may return!’
The lovely floweret seemed to say,
And thus it made me mourn.

And one by her sister Emily, who also died tragically young:

The Bluebell is the sweetest flower
That waves in summer air:
Its blossoms have the mightiest power
To soothe my spirit’s care.

I was going to write a learned post about Shakespeare and Bluebells but then I thought I could just add this link about the bard’s garden.

Then I thought I could write about the beauty of bluebells but then I realised that I could never match this one by bookishnature

So I think I will just post photos of bluebells from my walks with Toffee instead!

 

Toffee the Terror

Toffee the Terror

Toffee is Trained

Toffee with her rosette for passing her obedience training

If you read my last post you will know that I have a new puppy. She was named Toffee by my grandchildren as her ears are rather toffee coloured on the underside.  Toffee is nearing 6 months old and is still as uncontrolled and crazy as only a puppy can be.

She is supposedly a Pembroke Corgi crossed with a Dachsund but I am convinced there is a bit of Beagle in her.  She will hunt anything and seems to live with her nose permanently pressed to the ground.  She digs up borders,  gravel and pots as if her life depends on it and I can certainly say goodbye to any hope of a daffodil display this spring.

Indoors she seems to have taken a dislike to my soft furnishing style.  She has bitten holes in my towels, pulled threads in my throws, chewed the corners of the cushions, and my rugs are ragged.  My slippers are shredded and my socks all have holes in them.  But somehow she manages to still be appealing.

On the plus side she is clean, preferring to do her toileting under my much loved maple tree.

I have been taking her to ‘obedience’ training classes for the last 6 weeks and against all the odds she passed!

She has a certificate and a rosette to prove it!

I am still amazed that she managed to fool the trainer but I am oddly proud of her.

Dayna

 

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I’m posting a photo of my much-loved dog Dayna today sitting in our porch.  This is where I like to sit and write, colour or do puzzles in my very rare free moments.  I am proud to say that until Sunday 16th October, wherever I was you would find Dayna very close by.  In the porch, her favourite spot was the windowsill.  She would sit there guarding me from the world and watching the people go by.  Being south facing our porch is warm and cosy and a great suntrap.  Dayna’s beautiful silver dapple coat of fur would shine in the sunlight as she sat, so proud of herself in her little domain.

Just four momentous years ago I wrote about the little Dachsund, Dayna, that I rehomed.  She settled in quite well after a few minor hiccups!  As soon as I picked her up from her previous home, I popped into the Pets at Home Store.  There I rashly bought 3 very large bags of a good quality dog food, one chicken, one beef and one vegetable variety, which she flatly refused to eat.  I also bought a canvas cage for her to sleep in ~ which she absolutely refused to get into.  I bought a lovely red extending lead to match her very sparkly red collar, which she chewed through during her first walk.

Feeling desperate I appealed to my wonderful dog-loving daughter in Vermont who sent me 3 books packed full of guidance on training your dog:

How to Raise the Perfect Dog by Cesar Millan

How to be your dogs Best Friend by The Monks of New Skete

Dog Stories ~ Everyman Pocket Classics.

I found these books insightful and very helpful, but obviously Dayna has previously read one called How to Get your Owner to Do Whatever You Want, so she wins hands down.  One week and three leads later we got the measure of each other and Dayna had got me trained.

Dayna would eat fresh meat or fish, any kind of cheese, pouches of lamb and rice with vegetables, or tins of expensive dog food.  On no account would she eat dry food however expensive ~ 3 large bags of which were donated to the local animal rescue centre.

Dayna would walk for miles very happily with a short chain metal lead.  She had no interest in being on a long extension, preferring to be within a couple of inches of my feet, preferably between them so I am in danger of tripping.

Dayna had no intention of ever sleeping in a cage, however softly padded or comfortably den-like whatever the Monks of New Skete say!  She prefers to sleep within licking distance of my foot in a soft bed with a fluffy cushion.

We had some great days out. In Pershore for the Plum Festival we sat outside a cafe in the sun where every passer-by fell in love with her.  At the seaside she gloried in the freedom of the beach.  In Wick at the Confetti Fields, she climbed on a trailer and surveyed the scene.  She had such a big personality for such a small dog.

When my two adorable grandchildren came on the scene she was gentleness personified.  As babies they soon realised she was a real-live fluffy toy who loved to play with them.  As Thea grew into a toddler she would dress Dayna up in hats and cover her in jewellery.  Stanley would include her in all his games too. For him she was a dinosaur or an obstacle in the way of his bike or on his train track.

How could something so small have so much control?  I don’t know but she was everything I could want from a dog:

Loyalty, trust, companionship, healthy walks, fun, and bucket-loads of love.  She was worth her weight in gold.

Then on Sunday, the anniversary of my mum’s death, Dayna was tragically killed on a busy road near our home.  She was being taken for a walk on a new lead which somehow came loose as she excitedly pulled to cross the road in a hurry to get back to where she was happiest ~ in our little bungalow, with her little pack ~ her domain, her world.

My heart is broken by her loss.  She is irreplaceable.  But her memory will shine on in our hearts forever.

 

 

Getting to know Dayna

My little Dachsund, Dayna, is settling in quite well after a few minor hiccups!  As soon as I picked her up from her previous home last Thursday, I popped into the Pets At Home Store.  There I rashly bought 3 very large bags of a good quality dog food, one chicken, one beef and one vegetable variety, which she flatly refuses to eat.  I also bought a canvas cage for her to sleep in ~ which she absolutely refuses to get into.  I bought a lovely red extending lead to match her very sparkly red collar, which she chewed through during her first walk.

My wonderful dog-loving daughter in Vermont had sent me 3 books packed full of guidance on training your dog:

How to Raise the Perfect Dog by Cesar Millan

How to be your dogs Best Friend by The Monks of New Skete

Dog Stories ~ Everyman Pocket Classics.

I found these books insightful and very helpful, but obviously Dayna has previously read one called How to Get your Owner to Do Whatever You Want, so she wins hands down.  One week and three leads later we have got to know each other a little better and Dayna has got me trained.

Dayna loves pouches of lamb and rice with vegetables or tins of expensive dog food ~ not dry food ~ 3 large bags of which will now be donated to the local animal rescue centre.

Dayna will walk for miles very happily with a short chain metal lead.  She has no interest in being on a long extension but prefers to be within a couple of inches of my feet ~ preferably between them so I am in danger of tripping.

Dayna has no intention of ever sleeping in a cage, however sofly padded or confortably den-like, whatever the Monks of New Skete say!  She prefers to sleep within licking distance of my foot in a soft bed with a fluffy cushion.

Today has been wonderful for both of us.  She has been with me for every minute.  First, we went back to the Pets at Home store and bought a supply of the food Dayna loves;  We drove to Pershore for the Plum Festival and sat outside a cafe in the sun; We took Gerry to the dialysis centre and went for a walk; We cut all the Lavender bushes and bundled up the fabulous smelling lavender to hang up and dry, then went for another long walk;  Lastly we drove back to the dialysis centre, where Dayna scrutinised every man who came out as she waited for the one she has designated the ‘leader of our pack’.

How can something so tiny have so much control?  I don’t know but she gives me everything I wanted from a dog:

Loyalty, trust, companionship, healthy walks, fun, and bucket-loads of love.  I think she is worth her weight in gold.

 

Dayna the Long Haired Dachsund

Dayna, my new companion

At last my new forever friend has found me.

When I was a child there was always a dog around; Rip, Aunty Gracie’s dog; Peter, my Grandad’s dog, then Patch and Smudge at home.  When I first started teaching and lived in a flat with my much loved and mourned friend, Pat, we got a Basset Hound called Henry.  He was the greediest dog in the world and we just could not keep him, so he ended up living in the lap of luxury (and drinking pints of beer I heard), with Pat’s mum and dad!

I have had two faithful dogs in my life since I got married and had children.  The first was Nellie, a Miniature Wire-haired Dachshund, (blind in one eye hence the name Nellie from Nelson), that I got when she was just 10 weeks old.  I chose the smallest dog I could find as my young son was wary of dogs.  Having always loved dogs I wanted to introduce him to a breed that would be smaller than he was and therefore non-threatening.    Nellie became our adored family pet through 3 more children, two house moves and a divorce!  Nellie had such a distinctive character; funny, cute and with an intense devotion to the children.  When I was at work and the children were at school, Nellie would squeeze under the gate and take herself off to my mum’s for the day to wait for our return.  Mum lived in the same road as us and people were always amused to see this tiny dog trotting along purposefully as if going to the office!

In the record-breaking hard winter of 1982 when we were snowbound for weeks and Nellie couldn’t go out without disappearing into a snow drift, we were adopted by a cat called Sommy (after Somerton Lock where he was fished out of the canal as a kitten).  Nellie and Sommy became inseparable and we were never sure whether Sommy thought he was a dog, or Nellie thought she was a cat!  Whatever it was, Nellie adopted the cat and for the rest of their lives they slept in the same bed.  When Nellie was 171/2 years old she died of old age. Within a month Sommy died too, leaving an enormous hole in our lives.

After a gap when our only pets were hamsters we acquired our second faithful friend.  It was in 1993 when my much loved dad died, that Jenny and I went with my mum to help her choose a puppy as a companion.  She chose a beautiful black and white pedigree Cocker Spaniel which she called Tess.  While my mum and I were focusing on Tess, Jenny had been chosen by another of the puppies, a blue roan cocker spaniel.  This puppy followed jenny everywhere so, needless to say, as Mum went home with Tess, we went home with Blue.

Blue was the sweetest, most gentle and loving dog we could have had.  Living opposite a park she got plenty of exercise but the one thing she hated was the car.  It was hopeless trying to take her on journeys as she just cried from the minute we got her into it.  However she had a lovely life, adored by all the family.  She looked like a puppy all her life until she became very ill and sadly the vet advised us to let her go peacefully, which we did.  She was a grand old 141/2 years.

By the time Blue died all my children had grown and flown (literally in 3 cases!), so I did not feel the need to get a new dog.  I was happy taking Jenny’s dog, Frank, for walks while she was at work.  But since Frank died at a ripe old age I have really missed having a dog to walk and love.

I have been searching the rescue and re-homing centres for weeks with no luck; until yesterday!   Gerry was searching the internet at the hospital for puppies in the Cotswolds, and I was searching the internet from home.  There were so many adorable puppies available and I did ring up for one or two, but then I spotted Dayna.  She is not a puppy at 5 years old but she needed a new home.  Something about her eyes appealed to me and I rang up and arranged a visit.  From the minute I walked in I just knew she was the one.  She is quiet, gentle and loves to be near people.  She really knew how to get me hooked, sitting on my lap with her eyes looking deep into mine.  Knowing how easily persuaded I am, I decided that I needed a more objective view ~ Gerry would have to meet her too!  It was with some trepidation that I drove him to meet her straight from the hospital.  But I need not have worried; she totally won him over too!  We took her home there and then.  We were given a lead and a raincoat for her but no bed, blanket or toys which surprised me.  We bought new ones on the way home but sadly she had nothing familiar to comfort her.

Last night was difficult as she was in strange surroundings and she was a bit restless during the night.  I probably did all the wrong things, putting her new bed right by my bed so she was near us, but eventually she fell asleep.  She woke me ridiculously early ~ 6.30am!  And totally untrue to form I got up and took her for a walk!  She walked beautifully but did not wee until she got home!  Bit of a hiccup there as it was in the hall, but fortunately there were towels and blankets down which saved the carpet!

Today she has eaten well and drunk her water and is still peaceful and adorable.  Any advice on how to help her settle in smoothly will be gratefully received!  And especially any advice on how to encourage her to wee outside!!