Although both of us write part-time professionally, having a website like this means one can sometimes discuss something just because it makes you feel good. Such solipsistic pleasure, if over-indulged, leads to the intense boredom and disengagement of the reader. However, today it may just be permissible.
Suddenly it feels like spring and as the days have been getter longer signs of new life have appeared everywhere. Our dog’s apparently purposeless barking was traced to a bird trying to build a nest under the roof, his roof. We’ve seen the best of the snowdrops already, although on a local bank where they are sheltered from direct sunlight, even now they really give the effect of a sudden snowfall at the roots of the hedge. The hellebores are still going strong. Primulas have appeared in colours that would be considered gaudy later on in the year but right now just seem wonderfully cheerful.
For weeks we’ve had small species and reticulata irises (I do wonder whether the veining is really that reminiscent of a net, but I suppose it’s as good a word as any) lightening up the beds. Little daffodils are everywhere. At least some of our camellia blossoms have survived the frost and there is a huge reserve of unopened buds to replace the numerous browned casualties where early sun hit frosted tissue.
And it’s really the buds and the twigs and the general change in colour and tone of the countryside that shows that spring is nearly here. Many of these flowers have actually been around for a while. In some cases and in some parts of the country they are even going over, but the general lightening, streaking and flushing of colour in the countryside is something very recent. It’s sometimes hard to pin down what’s done it until you start to look carefully.
Certainly there are hazel catkins in quantity with soft yellows dangling down above the darkness of the road. The twigs of willow have taken on a range of greens, oranges and brighter yellows that sometimes appear illuminated from within while some lime twigs seem quite red. When the sun catches lichens on trees their rusts, jades and sharper greens all come to life. In general the outlines of trees and bushes are changing, becoming gentler and lighter. The blurring results from buds, not yet opened, starting to push through their sharp crisp winter lines. The fruit buds on the apples are much fuller and more plumped up, distinguished more than ever from the pointier leaf buds, although it will be a while before they open into this year’s blossom. New growth on the roses forms delicate, almost transparently crimson shapes that are, incidentally, very difficult to photograph in anything but the best light. The camera seems much happier to focus itself on the harder outlines in stronger colours somewhere else in the picture plane.
As the air has become warmer, animal life has sprung back into being, and the trees and hedgerows bulge and bud before their frothy tumescence follows in April, so the quality of sound in the countryside has changed. The harsh winter noises have been dulled down a bit and a predominance of chirping and gentle rustling of foliage in softer breezes is just beginning to take over. It’s still too cold to sit outside without a jersey for very long, even around lunchtime, but at least you can sit, as opposed to scurrying back inside. The slide show below shows nothing in itself that is very spectacular, but presents a stream of images of things we have every cause to be glad of and make welcome. Chris.