I've yet to see a live hare this year, and feel disappointed not to have provided one in March, so let me tell you instead about our trip to Oxford in January. We'd gone to see an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, and afterwards walked in the rain to the Ashmolean to see the Samuel Palmer sepia prints. As long as you ask at the information desk in advance the staff in the print room will let you in and get out the prints for you to see. It makes you feel quite special. On the day we went it was very quiet up there, just the ticking of a clock, and the shuffling of paper and easels. The model lady archivists got the prints out in pairs, set them up gently, and offered us magnifying glasses of monumental proportions to examine the prints more closely. And they really are the most exquisite and desirable works, detailed with trees, leaves, flowers, tiny cottages, wooly sheep on hilltops. This one - "Early Morning" - may well be my favourite. I like to think it's a hare rather than a rabbit in the woods, though it is described as a rabbit elsewhere. But look at those ears, and the shape of the head, and the length of those back legs. And hares will eat woody things, and are more solitary than rabbits. Surely I'm right.
We also got to see the Palmer self- portrait at the same time. It's quite an intense and intimate experience being so close, seeing the little smears and watery splodges, the vulnerable, young face, wondering how this young man got to see the world the way he did. It was rather aspecial, a little overwhelming in fact, and to be recommended, especially on a cold wet day.
Back to the hares. I did manage to find one today, further from nature but closer to home.
|The Hare, Cambridge Heath Road|
Not quite so romantic. It's a pub.