Ah! Bright Wings!
Back home from the West Country. It was very much an avian Easter. I had no sooner arrived in Devon than—incredibly, because they are not often found in Devon—a nightingale began to sing. It sang all through Easter weekend and beyond. Our trip to Cornwall was cancelled because of a dead car battery, but once it was replaced, we headed to Exmoor and hiked to Dunkery Beacon, the highest point in Exmoor topped by a Bonze Age barrow. Along the way we heard a cuckoo calling, and there were skylarks everywhere. All three of these birds are rapidly vanishing from the English countryside, so we felt very privileged. After we returned to the car we drove to a small wooded area on the other side of the beacon where we heard another cuckoo. We were very lucky with the weather: it was a gorgeous day, with wide views and towering cumulo-nimbus clouds making their stately way across the pale blue sky. When I returned to Oxford I discovered that there had been rain for four days; I fear that I have lost my tomatoes, alas. While they have good drainage they can't take the constant wet without developing stem rot.
Our Easter fire was enhanced by the presence of a couple who are friends of my hostess. They brought an 18th century family bible to read from. We had the fire in a small paddock above the house, away from the dogs (who last year shouted in objection at being locked inside while we sang), but high enough to give us a view over the surrounding countryside. Again we were lucky with the weather: the sky was clear, the evening still—though blustery winds had been forecast. The midnight stars bent low over us while we cast incense on the fire, lit the paschal candle, sang the Exsultet, read the lessons and said the prayers. Then we informally processed to the house to share bread and wine with the paschal candle in the lead. It was difficult to talk at first, but we wanted to emphasise that what we were doing was ordinary life as it should be, saturated with mystery.
It was a most blessed Easter. I hope, Gentle Readers, that yours was as well.