Introvert

White Crocus

White Crocus

We seem to have quite a few crocuses – now that the snowdrops are starting to fade. There are still plenty of snowdrops around, the late-comers and those who didn’t get started until they were sure it was the right time, but the large clumps are starting to show more of the green of the leaves than the white of the flowers. They have done very well and we were very pleased to have them, but we do understand – it’s time they moved on.
The crocuses are really only a stop-gap. In a week or so the daffodils will be in full swing, but we need something to keep us occupied while they dust off their yellow bonnets and press their frills. Crocuses are rather an impatient bunch – they rarely have time to hang around. They pop up over night, and then, within two or three days they’re gone.
In the wood behind the house, we often surprise a single white crocus wandering, lonely as a cloud. We’re not sure why he prefers solitude – most of the other guys hang out along the hedge – perhaps he’s down at the introverted end of the social spectrum, I wonder if he’s working on a novel?

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Song of Spring

Blackbird and snowdrops

Blackbird and Snowdrops

‘Yes, I know the days are cold
and the trees howl in the gale
that drives aslant the sleety snow.
Scudding clouds carry full sail.

‘Green shoots stir on bank and hedge.
Snowdrops whisper, head to head.
Pale and low the sun sends out
beams of cobweb-silken thread.

‘Patience now, the world will turn,
once again you’ll hear me sing,
calling out it’s winter’s end,
carolling the Song of Spring.’

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Shame

Robin on the hedge

Robin on the hedge

This week we have the cute Christmas card candidate of the year – a robin. True, for maximum effect he/she should be sitting in a holly bush, preferably next to some shiny holly berries, unburdening his soul with heart-rending melodies.
This, I’m afraid, is all down to amazing PR. The marketing department have been working hard, tirelessly promoting him/her as a victim at all seasonally appropriate opportunities. Poor Cock Robin. Who shot him indeed?
I’ll mention the holly berries first. A nice hard frost breaks them down and they then become the only thing edible, at this time of year. Withing a day or so, every holly bush in the area will be completely stripped of its fruit.
So no berries on our card, then.
The heart-rending melodies are territorial markers. They are only sung in spring, when establishing a territory becomes central to mating and feeding chicks. So, no soulful songs on Christmas cards, I’m afraid.
In order to establish a territory, what you need is a good loud voice, and an aggressive nature. In fact when you come down to it that cute card candidate is in fact a cute card caricature. Far from an angelic chorister – he/she (they’re both as bad as each other) is a loud-mouth blaggard with a pathological hatred of his/her own kind.
He should be ashamed of himself – no wonder he hides his head under his wing. Poor thing?

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A Vague Promise

Snowdrops In The Lane

Snowdrops In The Lane

When we set off on our daily dalliance, the first fifty foot-falls take us up an short incline, then, along the lane to the gate. As we stand at the base of the incline our eye level is at the height of the banks a little further on. In the drab days of winter, there is little to see there.
The oak trees of the wood on the right, stand leafless and silent. Dreaming of warm spring days filled with pollen and gentle breezes. They have no inclination toward communication, and I doubt if they are even aware of the fierce gales and bitter chill that are the current central topic of conversation.
The hedge on the left usually has a trim this time of year, it is transformed from an artistic, but irregular, interwoven mish-mash of whip-thin tendrils, into a tidy, compact brown-ness, matching the bare earth of the bank.
But, spring is in the air. If we need proof, this initial incline offers us proof positive. For here, today, we have a cheering patch of snowdrops. Soon they will be joined by the irrepressible yellow of daffodils, then lesser celandine and bluebells join the dance.
And so, in its own time, spring will fulfil the promise the snowdrops whisper, so faint as to be barely intelligible, as we pass each day.

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Ode To A Snowdrop

Snowdrops

Snowdrops

Winter’s cold bites nose and ear
Winter’s sky, dark, presses down
Winter’s winds rake tree and field
Winter’s earth in hues of brown

Soft green leaf when came you here,
Soft green leaf, through winter’s grime?
Soft green leaf, you bring us hope,
Soft green leaf, is now the time?

Pale white bloom lift up your face.
Pale white bloom your candle flame,
Pale white boom, burn bright, and thus,
Pale white bloom, fierce winter tame.

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Pride

Sheep - Hard at Work

Sheep – Hard at Work

‘Snowdrops, Snowflake? Not our thing. We’re ‘ard, we are. We don’t have the time or the inclination to stop and smell the roses. We don’t bleat to be taken into the barn with every change in the weather, not us. Come rain, come shine, you want your grass eaten? We’re the girls for the job.’
‘Along the hedgerows, are they? Can’t say I’ve noticed any. Don’t have much time for hedgrows, personally. You seen the size of this field?’
‘Stressful isn’t the word for it, dawn to dusk, with never a break.’
‘It’s the intensity of it, mostly – you know, concentration, focus. You can’t let little things like the weather distract you. Not if your going to get the job done, you can’t – and we’re going to get the job done. That’s what we’re here for.’
‘It’s our pride, I suppose, you know, reliable – that’s us. Show us a field of grass and get out of our way. We’ll handle it. Do the whole job for you. From start to finish. You toddle off and soothe the finer feelings of those sheltered Charolais of yours. We’ll take care of the grass for you, don’t you worry.’
‘More snow, you say? So what – I’ve got me big coat on.’

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Sight, Sound and Scent

Muck Spreading

Muck Spreading

It’s a nice day today – that line of water at the top of the picture is the Solway Firth, put there to dampen the spirits of any rampaging Scots army.
But, I really wanted to chat about the gentle sights and sounds of the countryside. The cheerful chirping of the birds, the soft lowing of the cattle. Speaking of which, it’s cattle that take centre stage in this missive. You see, they suffer from chills to the tootsies, often referred to as footrot, so they can’t be left lying around in the fields over the winter. They need to have a nice clean, dry barn made available to them. The word I’d like to focus on here is clean. Cows, being obliging folk, do their best to give as good as they get, and they return the fodder they recieve, in a slightly used condition to be sure, at the first available opportunity.
On a regular basis their stalls are cleaned with a pressure washer and the accumulated detritus is pumped into a large tanker. As soon as the tank is full it is towed out to the fields and, with the aid of a powerful pump the grass is sprayed back where it came from.
If you were wondering when we would get around to waxing lyrical on the scents of the countryside. This is not that time.

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