Monday, 19 April 2010

Presages Of Spring

Having moved house in the middle of all the snow in early January, we are now starting to see the arrival of spring and every day we experience a child-like excitement at every new discovery, every green shoot and every new wildlife sighting.

Our old house was huge and situated in the middle of town; we've swopped it for a tiny cottage in the middle of the country set in 780 acres of mixed woodland and parkland. With Bewl Bridge just a mile away as the trout flies, we seem to be in the middle of a world bereft of human interference.
It's absolutely marvelous.

So the year moves on apace and the bracken is starting to raise its head through the leftover leaves in a green halo of furled hairiness. Cock pheasants are calling to their wives with a flurry of blurred wings and the nettles are already taking over the wooded dales and marching through the undergrowth. Soon the bluebells will all be open - a deep purple carpet through the woods, the anemonies and primroses a forgotten memory as April makes way for May.

The Marmalade has been jarred for later in the year and this week both nettle and wild garlic soups will be made and frozen to be remembered later in the season; a starter for late Autumn lamb or November's Herring dishes.

We've already had the wild garlic in our breakfast omlette and found a cauliflower fungus in the wooods. We've seen deer, woodpeckers and most nights our sleep is ushered in by the hoots and shrieks of the Tawny Owls.

In the garden we have spotted tree creepers, nuthatches, lesser spotted woodpeckers, several variety of tit, fallow deer, pheasants and all the usual suspects. It's been wonderful to sit out among the bats as the sun drops over Bewl and Venus and Mercury sit above the sunset for an hour or so after dark.

What has also amazed me is the surprise we feel when we identify the trees around us by the buds that burst into being almost before our eyes. Horse Chestnut and Wayfarer Tree. Hazel, Sweet Chestnut, Wild Cherry and Crab Apple - all within 100 yards of our back door!
Then of course there is the availabilty all around us of firewood, the future anticipation of blackberries, rosehips, rowan berries and a multitude of mycelium (that's mushrooms to the uninitiated), not to mention elederberries, hazel nuts, sweet chestnut or Sloes.

It's going to be a good year.