IREMEMBER a bank of wood lying to the sun, a small plantation of straggly trees. There at the end of April or beginning of May, in weather, when the heart sings, when the whole world laughs, and there are wisps of snow about the hills, blue sky flecked with white clouds overhead, then one would find on the bank, patches of sweet violets, very small but very sweet. They grew in a few small patches hardly more than about twenty or thirty yards in length, there one could always be sure of finding sweetness, sweetness that one could gather in handfuls, and carry the memory with one for years afterwards. The wood came down to a small watercourse that was built in, so as to supply a farm thrashing-mill; and the violets spread over the burn down to the wall on the side of the farm road. There they grew at their own sweet will, almost on to the road itself. When I first went to live at the farm few knew of the violets, few people thought of such a plant growing there wild, and that it was one of the few spots in England where real old wild violets could be found, deep purple violets.
I daresay since the railway came within a mile of the spot others have found them, as town eyes out in the country are quick to find out-of-the-way treasures. Another April picture I remember, not far from the violets about half a mile further up the burn, nearer the hill tops. A ruined thatched cottage; the old home of a faithful shepherd family with the old clan name Macgregor; who lived now in a new slated cottage nearer the farm homestead and close to the violet wood. Round the ruin were, and still are, the remains of an old garden. Here, on bleak days in April, too far north and too cold to find them in March, one finds a patch of bright golden double daffodils; a splash of colour on the green hill-side. There they grow year after year never spreading very far but always there. Sometimes in bloom at Easter, sometimes later: if ready at Easter the farm children would gather them, to use as dyes for their Easter eggs. Pace eggs as we used to call them in that old Northumbrian valley, Good Pace Day being Easter Sunday. On Monday the children asked eggs from the neighbours and coloured them with daffodil blooms, with whin blossoms, onion skins or with scarlet flannel. Afterwards dressed in their best with something new on for luck, they bowled their dyed eggs in the nearest grassy field. One almost thinks of those woods and flowers as dream flowers of thought. One wood especially so, that again, lay open to the sun, and there the wild blue hyacinths grew so closely, so thickly packed together that looking through the trees one saw a fairy mist of blue haze brooding over the carpet of the wood. One thinks that, as the bells rang, the flowers breathed out a visible breath of beautiful blue perfume. Dreams now to me, to some still, clear realities none can forget; memories to give sweetness to life for many days.