The stage is set, the lighting is full on, all around the bit-players are taking their places; stage-hands, mostly in pairs, are fluttering about here and there being incredibly busy. In the auditorium there is a hush, a huge sense of expectancy; are we going to see the best show in years? There is a silence you could cut through with a knife. Where am I?
I have just walked around our fields. It is eleven o'clock in the morning. The sun is full on and the grass beneath my feet is heavy with Spring dew. Here and there, dotted about the grass, are the early Spring flowers - Daisy (bellis); Milkmaids (Lady's Smock or Cardamine); wild plum blossom; Garlic Mustard (Alliaria); Comfrey (Symphytum); White periwinkle (Vinca). In the hedgerow pairs of birds are so busy they hardly notice us pass, flitting in and out of the hedge, flirting, disappearing into the fledgling greenery - yellowhammer, chaffinch, hedge sparrow, blackbird, greenfinch.
In the hedgerow the hawthorn leaves are clean and sparkling with dew. I can't resist picking one and eating it - bread and cheese we used to call it as children. Deep under the hedgerow dog violets peep out; shy little flowers they always try to hide, yet seen close-up they are enchanting.
Tiny off-stage dramas are always taking place - a pheasant's wing suggests perhaps Mr. Fox has been about; a scattering of dove feathers means the sparrow hawk has had a good meal. Yes, in Nature there is always menace as well as beauty and I couldn't resist taking the photograph of the tulip as I came back in the gate - I think it is beautiful but there is something menacing about it too, don't you agree? And the final tiny off-stage drama - just as last year the collared doves have built a totally unstable nest in the Scots pines ("two sticks across and a little bit of moss", as the poet says) and their first egg has fallen through and landed in the grass. I fully expect all the others to do the same.
Is it going to be the best show in years? In sincerely hope so, the signs are all there. In about a fortnight there will be a fanfare of trumpets, the curtains will be fully pulled back and it will emerge in all its glory - every hedgerow in the fields, on the hill side, across the horizon; every little wizzened, gnarled tree dotted about the fields - all will burst forth and our little world will be filled with the smell and the sight of the glorious May blossom (hawthorn blossom) - and I , for one, can't wait!