Here you will find Tales Of The Day from a Small Town
Wet ‘n’ Windy
Well, that was wet wasn’t it? As soon as the lockdown begins to lift, and Grange looks forward to welcoming much missed and much needed visitors to our small town, Mother Nature conspires against us. Yesterday, May Bank Holiday Monday, presented us with the wettest and coldest Spring Break in 43 years. Longer probably, truth be told, but the first Monday in May was declared a bank holiday only in 1978 and so, 43 years it is.
For some folks though, me included, the beginning of May has always been a celebration. For followers of the ancient ways, the beginning of May heralds the commencement of Summer when The Wheel of the Year turns once more.
It is the time of the Fire Festival of Beltane – the Celtic May Day. It officially begins at moonrise on May Day Eve, and marks the beginning of the third quarter or second half of the ancient Celtic year. It is celebrated as an early pastoral festival accompanying the first turning of the herds out to wild pasture. Rituals were once held held to promote fertility. Cattle were driven between the Belfires (or Baelfires) to protect them from ills. Contact with the fire was interpreted as symbolic contact with the sun.
In early Celtic times, druids kindled the Beltane fires with specific incantations. Later when the Christian church took over the Beltane observances, a service was held in the church, followed by a procession to the fields or hills, where the priest kindled the fire. In homes throughout the land branches from the rowan tree are hung over the house fire at this time to preserve the fire itself from bewitchment (the house fire being symbolic of the luck of the house).
Oh my, I digress once more, as I am apt to do – back to my original topic…
Along with most of the country, yesterday, in Grange, saw the coldest start to the May holiday ‘ever’. Along with winds of up to 65 mph we were pummeled with rain throughout the day. As a 800 mile wide Atlantic storm rushed in, trees were felled and early blossom eradicated. In addition, temporary structures and marquees, put up to welcome anticipated visitors, were at risk of being blown away.
To the north of here, in Shap, a temperature of -5.8 C was recorded – the lowest for an early May Bank Holiday since it was introduced all those years ago. There were reports that it was almost 6 degrees below the freezing Finnish capital of Helsinki! Truly it was a humdinger of a day.
We have another holiday soon – on 31 May – the Spring Bank Holiday or Whitsun. This is the time of parades, brass bands, choirs, fairs (not this year though) and Morris Dancing. I’m hoping for sunshine, how about you?
My elderly mother remarked that yesterday came with the worst holiday weather for ‘donkey’s years’ so, I mused, “what do we mean by ‘donkey’s years?'”.
We’ve all heard the phrase, right? Well, here in the UK anyway – I’m not qualified to say whether it’s common parlance in far off lands such as Canada and other parts of North America where, as we know, the folks there have a peculiar take on the English language!
But what does it mean, ‘Donkey’s Years’? I resolved to make it my mission to find out for you.
We all know that the slang term ‘Donkey’s Year’s means a long time. We’ve heard peeps say ‘I’ve not heard from so and so for donkey’s years ‘ or, as my mother said only this morning ‘… the worst holiday weather for donkey’s years’. But, I thought, ‘what is a ‘donkey’s year’, is it the same as a human year, or a dog year?’. Or, perhaps it’s like ‘time immemorial’ – which, as we know, means from the year 1189. Or maybe, as some say, one human year equals three donkey years.
They say ‘Google is your friend’ – don’t ask me who ‘they’ are for that is likely to take me down a whole new rabbit hole (and you with me probably) and so, yes, you guessed it I Googled it.
It seems I’ve been mislead, for donkey’s years for it’s not ‘donkey’s years’ at all and it is, in fact, ‘Donkey’s Ears’! But then again, perhaps I haven’t for there is some debate. The phrase is said to have originated in the early 20th century, apparently as a pun on the long ears of a donkey. It’s not certain, though, which came first: ‘donkey’s ears’ or ‘donkey’s years’. Maybe it’s just a corruption or a ‘vulgar’ pronunciation of ears as years or maybe it’s Cockney slang who knows? Does it matter? Ears or years, suffice it to say that it means ‘a very long time’. Me? I prefer ‘donkey’s ears’ – or, maybe, I’m just being an ass!