As regular readers of this blog may have gathered, I am a bit of a fan of the hare. I was delighted, therefore, to find this rather wonderful little book with the evocative title The Hare and the Moon: A Calendar of Paintings. It is pleasingly square, with a tactile cover, which is always a good start. And it had me at the first page, which is an illustration of the three hares motif!
There are a number of elements to the ‘calendar’ aspect of the book. A poem, with the refrain which recites the folk names for the full moons (The Snow Moon, The Wolf Moon, The Hunger Moon, The Sap Moon etc) is woven through it. Each month then has six themes. There are black and white illustrations of the moon phases. There are double page colour paintings of the hare in the seasonal landscape (I especially like January, where the hare is joined in the snowy countryside by the barn owl and the raven). There are Indian ink drawings of the hare in action and at rest. For each month there is a flower, a tree, and a bird, each accompanied by a colour painting and a note about the folklore and alternative country names. For example, June’s flower is honeysuckle:
“Used for rope-making in the Bronze Age and also known as woodbine, honeybind, trumpet flowers, Irish vine, Goat’s leaf, sweet suckle and fairly trumpets. Honeysuckle grown around the entrance to the home prevented a witch from entering and would bring good luck.”
The Hare and the Moon subtly weaves poetry and art together, blurring the boundaries and creating what has been described as ‘visual poetry’. This is so much more than a book of poems and folksy factoids with illustrations. The images have a dreamy quality which lend a timeless air to this charming book. Perfect for reading, as I did, while curled up on the sofa on a dark winter afternoon, a steaming mug of tea by my side (think hygge!), this would make a fine Christmas/Yule present for anyone who loves the natural world, folklore, or art. Or indeed hares!
(For more about Catherine Hyde, take a look at https://catherinehyde.co.uk/)