Well, I think we can say that the warm (ish) season has definitely arrived. In the hedges here the blackthorn buds are beginning to pop open and the hawthorn leaves are really beginning to show green. As children we used to pick and eat these, calling them "bread-and-cheese". Up on the top behind the farm, where the farmer was digging a hole yesterday (to drain off some trapped water), there were skylarks singing - what a pleasure to have them back as they have been missing for a year or two.
Down here on the farm itself, all the bird boxes seem to have been taken, bar one. We optimistically left that one as a robin box but now realistically think we had better put a blue tit front on it, as it would be so very vulnerable to crow, woodpecker and magpie. Robins, in any case, are very good at choosing unusual places to nest. The year before last one chose to nest on the top of the farmer's bench in the big shed - not as silly a place as you might imagine. First of all - Tip, the border collie, lives in there, so none of the farm cats ever go in. Secondly - if you saw the bench you would realise that it is absolutely covered with tools, tins of nails, rolls of baler band; I would call it an absolute mess but the farmer can always find whatever he wants on there. When he told me there was a nest I went to look - in a sea of rust, brown, nest-coloured in fact, I could not see the nest, which had four babies in it. How did I finally see it? I put a lid of mealworms on the bench, stood back and waited for mother robin to get them. In half an hour they had all disappeared down tiny throats.
Walking round the fields yesterday you could smell the grass beginning to grow and you could smell that other smell of Spring - young nettles. There was a chilly wind blowing but now they have got going chilly winds will not bother the flora around here - if they did then nothing would ever grow to seeding.
I wonder - do townspeople get so excited about Spring coming, or is it a "country thing"? I thought about that on my walk - after all the Japanese almost worship cherry blossom in their town parks. I tried to think of what signs of Spring there would be in a town other than the temperature getting warmer (hopefully). Well - lots of streets have trees, which would come into leaf - and, to me, there is something very exciting about the smell of fresh rain on a hot pavement - it is a smell that can carry a long way on the wind so that you can be warned of rain on the way.
How much more exciting this time of year would have been to our forebears. No central heating, no lighting other than candlepower, no means of drying clothes other than round the fire, no money for vegetables when they were not growing in the garden. Spring and then Summer would have been a time of plenty for country dwellers and the strain of Winter living would be put on the back burner for a while.
And, of course, the poets loved it too. A E Housman's Shropshire Lad - and in particular
"Loveliest of trees, the cherry now" - Robert Browning's Home Thoughts from Abroad - and, not least, "Sumer is icumen in - loude sing Cuckoo." Now that's a thought - who will be the first blogger here in the UK to hear that wonderful sound of Summer - the cuckoo?