Late spring leaves

We are so lucky to have this within easy walking distance, take a picnic to the river on a bank (national) holiday Monday. The first time I have ventured for so long and so far since the guidance relaxed on outdoor exercise here a couple of weeks ago. Mind you, though we took a modest enough five-mile (8k) walk, it had me aching. Clearly, my weekday lockdown exercise routine is not hitting the right spots.20200525_125454

On the radio the other day, the host played an old audio clip from the BBC archives of the writer, poet and gardener, Vita Sackville-West, recorded in 1968. In it, Sackville-West was explaining how the term ‘through leaves’, used to described the gratifying scrunch of walking though crisp autumn leaves, had become a sort of family shorthand. ‘Through leaves’ took on an adjective form to mean, I assume, those small moments of sensual pleasure, usually for free and sparked from an interaction with our surroundings, which give such satisfaction.20200525_124354

I have found the longer quote, and think it is worth copying out fully because whilst the ‘through leaves’ experiences can be very personal, there are at least some below that many of us will recognise. Sackville-West noted it was…

‘“through leaves” to run a stick along an iron railing or crunch thin ice; to suddenly remember a word or name you thought you’d forgotten; to write with the perfect pen; pulling curtains that run freely on their rods; sliding out a drawer which opened readily and silkily on ball bearings; cutting pages of a book with a sharp paper cutter; drawing a cork with a good corkscrew; drinking when you’re thirsty; feeling of sand between your toes at the beach; and reading in bed. Others include; sinking into bouncy seats at the movies; waking up to find it has snowed overnight; shopping in an outdoor market; putting on a freshly ironed shirt or suddenly catching sight of the sea.’

Some of these sensations were familiar from childhood and reignited in me when the children were small – but I am starting to forget them again. Moments like sploshing through puddles in wellington boots. Or blowing on a dandelion clock and watching the fairy seeds float away.

What better time, when there is an enforced limitation on more sophisticated activity, an enforced slowing down, than to value these small but intense pleasures?

So what else might be ‘through leaves’ on a late spring day?

I certainly registered the simple blessing of drinking something cool on a warm thirsty afternoon. And my daughter must have had such a moment in taking off stiff walking boots and socks to wiggle bare toes through grass. Also, wading in gaspingly cold stream water, perhaps. Or popping a thumbnail into the juicy stalk of a buttercup in order to make a buttercup chain. Pulling the long white plug of a strawberry out as you draw the roundly red fruit into your mouth. Lying on your back to watch wispy cirrus clouds on blue – is that the shape of a hawk or of a T-Rex? (We haven’t played that game in years).

What are your small, cherishable moments?




Vita Sackville-West from a recording included in ‘A Sense of the Past’ radio programme, broadcast 23 August 1968 as part of the Scenes that are the Brightest series.

Photos Miss H. Derwent



22 thoughts on “Late spring leaves

  1. The feel of a book’s pages. A wonderful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re very kind, thank you. And enjoy the lovely gardening weather.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Slipping between clean sheets / underneath the duvet when the bedding has been washed and hung on the line to blow in the sun all day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes! Good one. Nothing like clean sheets, any time of the year.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That feels so. dreamy – glad you could enjoy spring – a recent moment I cherished was watching Alice in Wonderland with my daughter

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How wonderful. There is nothing like sharing a classic book or favourite with one’s own children. I hope she enjoyed it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. She did. Thank you 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  4. “Through leaves” to eating ice cream or strawberries 🍓😂 … that’s my way 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think this year (summer) will be called a picnic year 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you’re right – by accident. And if the weather holds, by design! I don’t know what it’s been like in Sweden, but it’s been so warm and sunny here – I wonder if it will last?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Who knows, but i heard it will be warm summer… I need a warm summer bcz I’m going to stay at home 🙂 – no travels. I’m lucky to live in the house with a big yard & close to the river tho. I wish us a lot of sun & less viruses this year (& ahead)!!


  6. What a beautiful, poignant post. I’ve been listening to the birds, and observing their bright and vibrant colors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. Glad to hear about your time stopping to enjoy nature. The birds really are a sign of the seasons.


  7. 🙂 Lovely to read you enjoyed a holiday in the sunshine with your family, perhaps the answer to surviving 2020 is accepting it’ll be the simple things in life that will make us happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I think we’ll have to – and much counting of blessings where we can, I think. It’s like having to learn it as a ‘foreign language’, the art if slowing down and understanding we cannot have what we want whenever we want it (unless you’re a gvt. advisor – oops, didn’t say that – delete!)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 😀 we’re all very disappointed in ‘him’ enough said, all I can add is perhaps he should stay after all, I’m wondering if Boris is capable of governing without him. Learning the art of slowing down is a great way of putting it 🙂 .

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Though disappointment depends on whether we had high expectations 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow! Beautiful pictures and the view is refreshing. I wish I could have enjoyed spring as much as you did🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading. Summer is nearly here, and I hope that season will bring joy to you.


  9. Stirringly beautiful- nature’s heart and soul all put before us each day without expectations, without remorse… other than we respect it and live in harmony together.


  10. The English countryside so reminds me of our house in Normandy, where we would spend our summers. “On furlough”. 😉 It was a small village, with woods and fields all around. Same trees and foliage as yours. The unique perfume of a walf in the woods. Words of Robert Frost. What have you.
    Good that you have it at hand.


  11. How lovely! Do you make a wish while blowing on a dandelion? Our confinement seems to have brought on a greater appreciation for the simple beauty in all that nature has to offer.


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