May in May

At last, the hawthorn is flowering. For me, a still sunny afternoon, listening to flies buzzing, wood pigeons cooing, and smelling the heavy perfume of the may tree (which mixes intoxicating cloves with something slightly off) is the absolute essence of early summer – something to savour and dream about in the depths of winter.

The old saw “Ne’er cast a clout till May be out” has debatable meaning: should we keep our woollies on till the end of the month, or till the blossom appears? This year, I tend to the latter, though it’s not always the case.

May trees on chalk downs