‘How long have we been here?’
‘Not very long, about five minutes.’
‘No one else seems to be here yet.’
‘Well, we decided it would be better to be a bit early, remember?’
‘Oh yes, to avoid the crowds. Well, we’ve done that all right.’
‘I’m sure everyone else will be here, shortly.’
‘We aren’t that early are we?’ I thought we’d calculated it quite carefully.’
‘We have been here for just seven minutes.’
‘Oh. Is that all? Time seems to dawdle along when you’re waiting, doesn’t it?’
‘Would you like to walk around a bit and see if we can see anyone we know?’
‘You’re sure this is the right day, aren’t you?’
‘I checked the calendar, and I checked the email when you asked me about that before we left home.’
‘Oh, yes. So you did. Might as well wait here, then.’
‘It is still a little early.’
‘As you’re wearing that white hat, I presume this is someone’s wedding.
‘Philippa and Charles, dear. Philippa and I share an office at work.’
‘Ah yes, I remember you saying. Have I met her at all?’
‘Probably not. You might recognise her from the times you’ve dropped me off at work, though. She’s quite a pretty girl.’
‘Talking about pretty girls, you are looking stunning. That green really does suit you, you know.’
‘Why, thank you, Darling. You’re looking very smart, too.’
‘Ah. People. At last!’
‘Oh. Look. There’s Denise over there – you remember her, don’t you? Let me take your arm Darling.’
We have large numbers of sheep around here. In fact, if you pause to look in almost any direction, you will find that, one or several, sheep wander across your field of view. Over these last few months the general form factor of the sheep population has changed and they have become significantly wider.
On our rambles, from time to time, we surprise the occasional animal just meandering along – in much the same way that we are, really. At first they seem indignant to have been interrupted in their peregrinations, then a look of guilt steals over their faces as it dawns on them – we are on the right side of the fence, and they are not. This realisation is usually followed by a quick dash back to the hole that they made in the hedge. They scrabble through, then stand and, having recovered their poise, they look at us disdainfully – safe in the knowledge that they are, once again, in the right.
This increase in girth, that had affected almost all sheep, and that had been preventing them from making use of the small gaps in the hedge, is now a thing of the past. Almost overnight, it seems, the fields are full of svelte sheep – and lambs.
Well, here it is, March. We have a serious sprinkling of early Daffodils. Showing that some of them, at least, are up at a reasonable hour, and looking pityingly down on those who lie in their beds until April. The Snowdrops have been brilliant this year. Some gardens are just awash with their frothy, white, flowery foam, floating amongst the waves of sea-green leaves. There are splashes of white in the woods behind our house. Here and there, in odd places under the very feet of the hedgerows, a vagrant band of white-capped individualists are putting on a defiant show, almost hidden beneath the overbearing grey and brown.
Higher up the hedge, amongst the stubby grey-brown branches of the Hawthorn bushes, patches of pale green are appearing. Not leaves and not Hawthorn, but a lichen. The Hawthorn leaves will soon unfurl in preparation for the May Blossom, but at the moment, the sunlight still illuminates the nooks and crannies, the folds and crevices, the occasional small oasis of damp trapped in the wrinkles of the bark. For perhaps, four to six weeks this window of opportunity will remain open. The mosses and lichen know their niche – and they are poised, ready to exploit every life giving ray of sunlight it offers.