The North Wind now blows
And we shall have drizzle
Through spring’s tender leaves
Hear it howl and it whizzle
It bites at our ears and it nips at our nose
And if you’ve just washed your hair it’ll make it all frizzle
OK so the last bit doesn’t scan so well and the ‘poor Robin’ didn’t get a mention – but if he’s already put his head under his wing – he’ll never notice, will he?
Eleven o’clock on a miserable, cold, blustery, grey Sunday morning and the Dandelions are all still fast asleep with the covers pulled up over their heads.
It’s amazing how much you can learn from nature, isn’t it?
There’s an ash tree at the corner by the stables. Up to now it hasn’t been too important to us, but now, with most of the rest of the hedge in full leaf (we can still see the flick of brown that indicates the presence of a something or other but not what it is) the ash tree, standing there, still with no foliage at all (although there have been some flowers) has become a focal point on our daily route.
Every now and then we see a largish brown bird, it could easily be a female blackbird – or anything really, so to find one sitting on the ash tree’s bare boughs and with the sun behind us, was a stroke of luck. Then to top it all he started singing in that repeating phrase style that marked him as a Song Thrush.
I didn’t get to record much of his song and the wind was bringing the traffic noise from the direction of the main road – but here’s a short snatch. More to see what happens when I add it to the blog than anything.
A short snatch of the Song Thrush singing.
There are almost innumerable sites (ask Google) who will explain to you what “N’ere cast a clout till May is out” means. Just in case you’re wondering it means “Don’t put your warm underwear away until the weather warms up”.
Most explanations focus on the problem identifying May. Is it May the month, or is it May the blossom. A lot of people feel that waiting until June – i.e. the end of May is being a bit too cautious and anyway June 21st. is the northern hemisphere’s summer solstice, so if you’re still wearing your long-johns by then you might as well keep them on ready for next winter. The May blossom, on the other hand, often appears by the end of April (not this year though) and April showers can easily turn into nasty mean, vicious hail, sleet and snow storms.
That very nasty cold April wind is, at the moment, blowing around large clumps of cast off fleece. Many of the sheep are looking decidedly tatty as they shed their winter underwear in large handfuls against any hedge or fence they lean on.
They’ll be sorry! The May blossom, let alone May, isn’t out yet.
We had an email from Automattic recently – they wanted all WordPress users to join them in a 5 kilometre ‘something’. You could walk, swim, ride – whatever you wanted, but you had to do it between 23rd and 29th of April. The Dog and I decided to have a go.
So we needed to find a route that would take us over the required 5K, we didn’t expect a mere 5K to be a problem.
The first thing we found is that we probably walk a mile or a mile and a half on our usual outing. That was a bit of a reality check – 1.5 miles divide by 5 and multiply by 8 is only 2.4 kilometres (by the way, these are ‘kilo-metres’ that we are walking not ‘klom-iters’) so doing it the other way round meant 5 divided by 8 multiplied by 5 or 3.125 miles – almost twice as far as we would normally go. Hmmm . . .
So here is the final route :
Down through the village, across the bridge and up to the main road. Back the same way but turn left at the pub and go up (again) past the farm and the school, then turn left and carry on up to the T junction. Back down all the way, past the turn off to the school and on to the end, then round past the stables and back home to where we started from. 3.1-something miles – as near as 5K as you can get it doing the arithmetic in your head.
It took us an hour and a half – we stopped a few times to take photos and to look down rabbit holes – we weren’t in any hurry.
We found this sort of lilly thing growing in all sorts of places – mostly under hedges and in the woods. So we looked it up on Google and decided it was Ramsoms. Ramsoms turn out to be a most interesting plant (if, indeed this is what our plant is) it is also known as Wild Garlic but is actually a relative of Chives. As there are other plants around that look like this – but are poisonous (Arum Lilies for instance) we need to carry out a simple test – see if it smells of garlic. We’ve not done that yet but it is now high on our list of priorities.
Ramsoms have another name too, Bear Garlic. Indeed its latin name is Allium Ursinum. Wikipedia says this is because Brown Bears are very fond of the bulbs and have a habit of going round digging them up.
Of course, they could be just digging a trap for a heffalump.
Here he is again – but who is he? He sits on the hedge watching us pass, sniggering to himself.
“I know something you don’t know,” he says with a smirk. It’s got to the point where we almost pretend not to notice him sitting there. His yellowness doesn’t seem so out of place, now the varying shades of brown and grey of the bare branches have been replaced by the pale green of the new Hawthorn leaves.
We are becoming more and more inclined to believe that he is a Yellowhammer. The RSPB has him on the Red List, but either he needs a fairly large territory or we have several pairs along our daily walk route.
I’ve long supported the idea that all wild flowers should be genetically engineered to have a bar code label on the back of their leaves – to assist in identification. We definitely need something similar for birds.
Perhaps we could revive the government ID scheme but this time extend it to include all flora and fauna.
Today was misty and overcast with a chill wind blowing and the clouds, who had all got up late this morning, rushed along in a mad hurry to try to get there on time. The Dandelions – and the few Celandines that are still flowering – were all shut up tight. They must have opened the shutters this morning, peeped out, then quickly gone back to bed.
You know what they say about Mad Dogs And Englishmen? I wonder if Noel Coward would have considered the same stiff upper lip necessary to go Out in the Morning Drizzle.
I stood there in the middle of the grey day, watching the grey clouds scudding overhead and staring at the grey misty hills, thinking to myself that the windmills must be making grey electricity this morning. Quite suddenly, by some quirk of cloud shape and size, a row of sunbeams broke through and, almost seeming to rotate in sympathy with the windmills, raced across the hillside behind them – the rays of sunlight fluorescing in the misty air and their spotlight like footprints chased, one after the other, over the fields and hedges.
And then they were gone.
I did manage to take a picture of one of them with the camera – but the photo certainly doesn’t do justice to the magic of the moment