Sunday, 5 January 2014

New Year's Green

Not far from where I grew up, in a leafy suburb on the edge of north-west London, is a village that is definitely not suburbia, despite being only a few miles away from it. I'm not quite sure why it feels different - perhaps it's the duck pond, cricket pitch and the old-fashioned, independent ironmongery that seems to belong to a previous, simpler and more rural era. The houses are not all picturesque cottages, by any means and, in some ways, even if it's a village as opposed to suburban sprawl, it's not especially attractive. One of its roads is called "New Year's Green Lane" - a typically quaint, English road-name, derived from goodness knows where. But it is a proper country lane - very narrow, muddy, steep-banked and bordered with hedgerows that are thick with holly and typical English trees - oak and ash mostly. You can't see round the bends or over the top of the hedge so you get that slight mysteriousness that traditional, secret, English lanes have. Of course you'll find many better examples of secret English lanery in remoter parts of the country, especially in the south-west, but nevertheless, this one was near to home and perhaps because of its curious name, it's stuck in my memory.

New Year's Day brought it into my mind again and it occurred to me that, whatever the derivation, that little green lane has a certain metaphorical resonance about it for the New Year.  It seems to me that standing at the brink of the New Year is rather like looking up a secret, green lane in winter. This pic here is not the eponymous New Year's Green Lane I refer to above, but a little lane round the corner from where I live now. It has the same feel though - steep banks dotted austerely in winter just with moss, ivy, holly and bare-branched alder. Even though I know what it looks like past the bend, it still has a mysterious hiddenness to it as it crosses the brook, currently full of the flood water of recent weeks.

At this time of year one looks ahead at the winding ribbon of road, empty of traffic and pedestrians (because who is out on a dark January afternoon in the driving rain and cold?) and, in winter's austerity when there are no distractions to catch the eye, one's focus is just on the curve and incline of the path and the intense green that persists here and there in the patches of moss, ivy and holly that populate the otherwise deserted banks.

As with the ribbon of road, one cannot see round the corner of a new year, but one peers into it nonetheless, as it begins, well, I do anyway. Later, it won't bother me so much, that hidden curve and the unknown that awaits past the bend - I shall be distracted by the scent of wild garlic and its starry, white flowers, the sudden blue of violets in the bank and later still the warm, sweet smell of wild roses and then the lure of purple blackberries and shiny elderberries, glinting in the September sun, which will call to me from the hedges that border the lane, before I can begin to look past them. Similarly, as the weeks go by I will cease to look too far ahead into the year and will be distracted and absorbed by today, this week or next and what it contains - the ephemeral, and the less ephemeral, bits and pieces that make up my days.

I find the "looking up the lane" phenomenon of the New Year disturbing. Unsettling; increasingly disconcerting, as I get older. But the green that persists in the banks of the lane reminds me that life is always dynamic and, whatever lies around the corner, the sap of growing and living is quickening and nurturing both what lies hidden and what is already obvious. I never used particularly to like green as a colour, especially lime green with its high percentage of yellow and red, but I've found myself more and more drawn to it recently and as the New Year has nosed its way in, it's made its presence felt big time and I've welcomed it.

The colour has infused my dye vat

and made its way into my decorative borders of little coat squares inspired by Lucy of Attic 24's wonderful coat revamping project which you can read about here and which inspired me to do likewise with an old jacket. The dye on the packet may have been called "Tropical Green" but as far as I am concerned it's "New Year's Green"! It's as vivid as any January moss or wet-bright ivy for sure!

It's crept into my post-Christmas hooky project and wound its way across the granny clusters of more muted shades of blackberry, teal and soft rose, a little like a winding lane itself.

It's infiltrated the new additions to my little collection of hopeful Epiphany stars

And as a result, somehow it's been turning my annual New Year feelings of unsettled disturbance into happier ones of green promise.

Happy New Year to you and yours - I hope that for you too it will be a green one, if not literally then metaphorically - full of promise, hope and life.

E x


  1. Dear Mrs T
    Another thoughtful and beautiful post, celebrating the green of new life. Your coat is looking fabulous (I hope there will be a big reveal) and your projects are full of cheerful and optimistic colours.
    I hope 2014 is a colourful, happy and craft-ful (I'm not sure that is a word, but I like it!) year for you.
    Best wishes

  2. Such a lovely post, for me your New Year Green bring the hope of the Spring to come. The jacket looks like it going to be fab, wishing you a Happy Colourful New Year.
    Clare xx

  3. Happy new year Elizabeth ! A green year sounds very appealing to me , I love the green colour.
    Bonne et heureuse année !
    Amitiés de France


  4. Once again, I could read your post over and over and over again. You are such a talented writer and photographer, E! Your words touch me.

    I hope there will be more photos of this green coat. I'm not one that has been particularly fond of green in the past, but now I am, thanks to you.

    Happy 2014!

  5. Love how you have recreated your coat with the pretty flowers. That lime looks refreshing. Pretty. I looked at the blog you linked to with the brown coat turned red, and yours is just as innovative and beautiful.

  6. I love your photos and your crochet projects are all looking wonderful.
    Jacquie x

  7. It is pretty wild to see anything that vibrantly green in January! I can't wait to see how your coat project turns out. You and Lucy should connect and get a picture of your coats next to each other...definitely for next year Christmas with her red and your green. lol Helen

  8. Wow! That's a vibrant green jacket you have there; how fabulous. Your photo of the lane, dipping down to a grey puddle and then rising up around the corner pefectly embodies these grey winter days and the hopefulness of spring. We have a row of broad beans, valiantly green against the wet earth of the garden, which make me smile every time I walk by them. Happy new Year.

  9. What a lovely post. I'm increasingly drawn to green - especially trees. Your coat looks fabulous! Happy New Year x

  10. Happy New Year to you, Elizabeth! There is much in this Green Post which resonates with me deeply. I hope 2014 is filled with joy, creativity and peace of mind for you and your family.


  11. Hi, Elizabeth. I'm so glad you shared pictures of your vibrant coat. The green is wonderful--there is quite a bit of this shade in the Noro yarn I used to make a vest I just completed. Bright colors like this are perfect for drab winter days. I loved your country lane analogy--as I get older, I sometimes hate to think about the years ahead, too, or to be reminded of the reality of how much time I have left to achieve all that I want to accomplish. I went to a movie a couple of days after New Year's and the man selling tickets asked me if I wanted a senior discount! Not a great way to start the year. (Maybe, I need to start religiously slathering on the face cream.) Anyway, hope your year gets off to a good start. My students return to school today, but the weather is so cold (due to something the media is calling an "Arctic Vortex", we have a two-hour delayed start today. All the best. Love, Liz

  12. A lovely, photogenic post today. I love your pictures and reference to the New Year. And the coat is frankly brilliant. I love what you have done, and although Lucy has hers yours is just as beautiful with the brilliant New Year green.

  13. I have been reading this post a few times now, and thinking about it, too. You capture beautifully how you feel at this time of the year - and how I feel, too. I think I might just dare to peek around the corner today for a little while and imagine how life will be in a few weeks time. I am inspired by your green coat, it brightens up the grey days of January. Having said that, the sun is warming my face through the window just now and I am happy. Cx

  14. Happy New Year to you too Elizabeth! x


  15. I always find something to soothe and settle my soul when I read your posts, Elizabeth. Something peaceful. I hope that doesn't sound weird! I found this New Year very difficult, since I have absolutely no idea what this year holds for me and I found it hard to feel optimistic. Your photos capture that mossy green perfectly and I think your coat will be gloriously bright and happy when it's finished. x

  16. I love the mysteriousness of your English lanes. The roads here seem so hard-edged, as if we're hurtling into the future with no time for mystery or collecting of thoughts. I hope many wonderful surprises and delights await you round the bend in 2014. A belated Happy New Year to you:)


Thank you so much for taking the time to visit me at Mrs TT's and comment. I love to read what you write.