Monday, February 9, 2009

"A Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady"

One of my favorite nature books is A Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, by Edith Holden. Written in 1906, it is a hand-written record of her daily walks and observations of the countryside around the small village of Olton in Warwickshire, England. Edith Holden is a talented artist and fills the pages of her book with beautiful watercolor illustrations of the wildlife and scenery found along the way. Rendered with a naturalist’s eye for detail, her paintings are soft, colorful and engaging. Her love and deep understanding of nature is apparent in every painting. She also scatters her favorite poems in with the illustrations and includes historical information and even folk mottoes.

Here is her entry for today’s date, February 9, 1906:

Snow-storm in the night, this morning we looked out on a white landscape, this is the first deep snow we have had this winter. I swept a space free on the lawn and strewed it with bread and rice. Crowds of birds came. I counted eight Tits at one time on the cocoa-nut and the tripod of sticks supporting it. There were some terrible battles among the Tits this morning. One tiny Blue-cap took possession of the cocoa-nut sitting down in the middle of it and bidding defiance to all the others. It was very funny to see him squatting in the shell, sparring and hissing at a Great Tit who came at him with open wings and beak. There was a partial eclipse of the moon visible this morning at 5:57 a.m. At 8 oclock in the evening there was a beautiful rainbow-coloured halo round the moon, unusually bright and distinct.
Edith Holden’s little coconut bird feeder on page 176 in her book.
One of these days, I’m going to make one for my yard.


Kim said...

OMG Kelly, that DOES look like my coconut feeder! It is so cool that people are still using them to feed birds today.

The picture is so pretty and I love how she has the teepee for the birds to perch on.

I smiled as I read the part about the stubborn tit who wouldn't move from the middle of the coconut because that is indeed what they do. Once stakes their claim they won't give it up easily.

I found a site that explains how to make one if you are interested. From what my neighbors have told me the hardest part is opening the coconut in the first place. After that it's fairly simple.

Kelly said...

...Cool! Thanks, Kallen! Matty definitely wants to make one as well. I have no idea how to open a coconut, so I'll check out the site.

Heather said...

What a cool thing, that coconut bird feeder. It feels kind of... tropical! You have to love the ingenuity of the person who first came up with that idea.

Cicero Sings said...

I have that book! ... a gift to me from a friend.

Kingsdowner said...

Thanks for reminding me of that book - it was incredibly popular in the 80s, when its pictures covered crockery, dishcloths etc, than went out of fashion abruptly.
But having returned to it, it's as fresh and beautiful as ever.
I'm sure Edith Holden would have been part of the nature-blogging 'community' if she were alive today!

Kelly said...

Heather: I'm definitely going to try to make one...
Cicero: It's a fun book to read...just a little here and there.
Kingsdowner: I think you're right...she would have been blogging about her travels every day! We did not have Edithware here. I wish we had becasue I would love to have had a teapot with one of her birds on it!