Basin Notes - May 2003

Easter Delights

Easter can fall between March 22nd and not later than April 25th. The most important date in the Christian calendar, its English title derives from Oestre, goddess of Spring. In 325AD the Council of Nicaea ruled that Easter Day should fall on the first Sunday after the full moon following the Vernal Equinox.

Of course, in those days they didn't have an Astronomer Royal to keep them right, so we have an untidy event. In England, the quarter days such as Lady's Day fall on March 25th, followed by Midsummer, Michaelmas and Christmas. Scotland's Candlemass, Wbitsun,Lammas and Martinmas follow their own timescale.

At least the birds know what the spring season holds - getting feathers preened, poussetting and pairing off. Around the salt marsh, territories are being established and the best cover found against the overhead predator and wash-out by the high spring tides. Even the edge of a garden can be a safe haven and a dog on the premises may be no great deterrent to the mallard.

The Country Code includes the precaution to go carefully on the country roads - this ought to include town roads, especially those adjacent to our ponds and rivers.

Before state aid was available, the church waidens were appointed at Easter, their duties including the collection and distribution of monies to the poor of the parish. MaundyThursday, the day before Good Friday, derives its name from Christ's command (mandation) to love one another. It was the custom of monks to wash the feet of the poor on this day and distribute money and clothing as well as food.

Nowadays, the Royal Maundy ceremony is still observed, with special silver money granted by the Royal Almonry being coined for the occasion and its distribution taking place at Westminster Abbey. Over many centuries the custom persists to distribute the Royal Maundy to as many old men and women as the sovereign has years.

With the lengthening days and warmer weather, take a walk in the countryside, enjoy the lovely primroses on the banks, the flourish on the blackthorn bushes and the song of the thrush. Switch off the telly and find out what the poor folk are doing.

Local sites to visit include the Seaton Cliffs at Arbroath, excellent for wild flowers and the seabirds and waders. Look out for a pod of dolphins offshore, from St Cyrus to Broughty Ferry. Inland, visit the Loch of Balgavies and also the Loch of the Lowes near Dunkeld.