Saturday, 23 June 2012

A parliament of hares and a downpour of rain

Up in the Highlands, a week before our wedding, and the rain is coming down in great torrents. People keep telling me that a rainy wedding day is good luck; I'm not sure if that's ancient superstition or contemporary tact, but I'm reminding myself that at least the Scottish landscape will be green...
On the way here last night, a magical scene: glimpsed in a field beside the lane, a circle of hares, all gazing inwards, motionless in the moment that we passed. I've heard occasional stories of these rarely witnessed gatherings -- known as a parliament of hares -- but never seen one for myself. No camera to hand -- although if we'd stopped, I'm sure the hares would have vanished -- yet a sight impossible to forget.
There's something about hares that makes me think of Ted Hughes; including a sinister episode that he recounted (invented?) in a letter to his sister Olywn, written on 10th February 1963, not long before Sylvia Plath's suicide: ‘I drove up to London, ran over a hare (by pure chance – it’s impossible to do it deliberately) sold it to a butcher’s in Holborn and he gave me five bob. I spent it on roses – 4 I got for 5/-, smashed two, & gave 2 to Assia.’ (Assia was his lover, who also subsequently killed herself).
I hope that doesn't sound too dark an association for a midsummer Saturday; not least because the sight of a hare always seems to me to be a blessing. But the superstitions surrounding hares are contradictory; my good luck could be translated by others as a portent of doom. Once upon a time, witches were said to disguise themselves as hares, and yet folklore also suggests that a wish may come true if made after sighting a hare.
Shall I wish for sunshine on my wedding day? Or does that tempt the gods to do otherwise? As I write this, the clouds have not yet lifted, but the heavy downpour has turned into a soft rain, perfect for walking along the lane, in search of a glimpse of a hare...

24 comments:

Minerva Black the shoppe keeping cat said...

Hares are mystical creatures who appeal to our own wild side and inner emotions. Flighty and secretive like our dreams, fleet of foot. Even a glimpse gives us hope. There is magic in our world. Even in the rain love blooms.

All the best for a wonderful wedding and forever after.

Justine Picardie said...

Thank you thank you thank you... what a lovely message to receive, and swift as a hare!

Gondal-girl said...

Oh, Justine - that is a beautiful omen I would have to say - hares and rabbits the helpmeets of Aphrodite if I remember my Greek myths and I know very special to the Celts ( being closer to home in Scotland).

Wishing you and your beloved a beautiful day, regardless what the weather does.

Also, regarding hares, have you seen Tamsin Abbott's beautiful stained glass of hare's in the UK and heard the album The Hare's Corner - bliss, bliss, bliss.

Justine Picardie said...

Thank you, Gondal-girl: I shall look up both your hare suggestions right away -- and then order some white umbrellas for next Saturday.

enid said...

Do you remember Masquerade by Kit Williams where everone searched for the golden hare- you found him and with him I hope comes golden moments and sunshine and never ending happiness- all the best for a wonderful wedding showers or not !!!!!

Bette said...

Have an absolutely wonderful day! I see you are appearing at the Edinburgh Book Fest. Wonderful. Can't wait to get my ticket. So looking forward to seeing the wedding pics...

Eve said...

Both moonstones and hares are symbols of rebirth so good omens I think for the new life ahead of you. I have followed your blog for sometime and and want to wish you a wonderful wedding day and every happiness for the future.

kairu said...

I spent a very wet weekend in Vancouver recently and came across a wedding party on Granville Island...while the photographers looked very damp and miserable nothing could stop the bride and groom from smiling happily. As it should be.

Hope you have a wonderful wedding day, rain or shine! xoxoxo.

Glenernan said...

Very interesting to read your encounter with the hares. I saw the same at my property, about 5 miles as the hare hops, from Tillypronie, three years ago.

I wonder if you are familiar with the poem 'Form' by Michael Longley?
Trying to tell it all to you and cover everything / Is like awakening from its grassy form the hare: / In that make-shift shelter your hand, then my hand, / Mislays the hare and the warmth it leaves behind.’

I was fortunate to be taught by him many years ago in Ulster.

Wishing Phillip and yourself a memorable (and dry...) day on Saturday.


Paddy Heron

Glenernan said...

PS to my note earlier -

I wonder if, having seen the Pictish stones at Migvie, you have visited your namesake The Picardy Stone?

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/insch/picardystone/index.html

Lilac In May said...

Wishing you both a wonderful wedding day and a lifetime of love. Our wedding day was supposed to be windy and rainy but the sun shone. I hope the weather remains as dry as the champagne for your toast, 'to husband and wife'.

eddi said...

Thinking of you and VERY happy for you,
Love
Eddi
Reader
Xxx

eddi said...

Thinking of you and VERY happy for you,
Love
Eddi
Reader
Xxx

eddi said...

So happy I said it twice :-)
X

Lou said...

Wishing you all the happiness in the world,Justine. All your Guardian Angels will be shining down upon you on your sacred day, especially your sister Ruth.

Lou said...

Wishing you all the happiness in the world,Justine. All your Guardian Angels will be shining down upon you on your sacred day, especially your sister Ruth.

Biba50 said...

My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these,
Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come,my love is come to me.
A Birthday-by Christina Georgina Rossetti

May the rest of your lives together be filled with beauty and love.

Share my Garden said...

Dear Justine, I was married on St Swithin's Day and it poured with rain! In a couple of weeks we shall have been married, happily, for forty-five years, so yes, some rainfall will be fine! Whatever the weather tomorrow I wish you every happiness.
And what a wonderful thing to have witnessed a parliament of hares, surely a good omen.

Serenknitity said...

Late to the party, but many congratulations on your impending wedding.

I recently saw my first hare! It was jumping in a field I drove past on a weekend in Oxford, and lifted my spirits so much, that I feel they must be good omens. I immediately went to the gift shop in the Ashmolean and bought one of every hare card they stocked (quite a lot).

I thought of you as I've just arrived at the stage in your Chanel where she's up in Scotland and doing up the wonderful house - and I've just read in The Scotsman that a group of businessmen are intent on lovingly restoring it in her style and turning it into a boutique hotel. Synchronicity all around.

Justine Picardie said...

Thank you, everybody, for such kindness and beautiful poetry. Just back in London, and will write more tomorrow. Wedding was wonderfully happy...

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Chrid Mann said...

I have myself seen the parliament of hares. It was one evening around 1980 I saw, from inside a moving bus, a group of hares sitting in a circle, facing inwards. This was at a place called Torslanda near Gothenburg in Western Sweden. I was about 25 years old at the time. I was especially fascinated because I had read about this phenomenon not long before in a book of English folklore.

Chrid Mann said...

I have myself seen the parliament of hares. It was one evening around 1980 I saw, from inside a moving bus, a group of hares sitting in a circle, facing inwards. This was at a place called Torslanda near Gothenburg in Western Sweden. I was about 25 years old at the time. I was especially fascinated because I had read about this phenomenon not long before in a book of English folklore.