Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Searching







Tess and I walk round the fields searching for signs of Spring. It is a lovely sunny day with a keen South wind blowing, so not terribly warm, but pleasant. A morning spent shopping in the supermarket followed by coffee with M, a friend, a chat about hens with another friend,M, and then home for lunch - and then after lunch the walk. Tess must be able to tell the time because at 1.30pm she fixes me with a stare which never wavers.

A short walk down the road brings me in contact with a retired farmer friend just about to have a bonfire in his field and we stop for a chat. This chap has travelled little throughout his eighty years - does only around three thousand miles a year in his car and rarely does a journey of more than thirty miles. Yet he is so knowledgeable about so many things - he knows the geography of the country well, he remembers the weather for the past few decades - he talked about the incredible winters of the 1940's as though it were yesterday and he is interested in absolutely everything.

Then Tess and I set off down the fields. The first thing I notice is that all the moss and lichen has begun to sprout. I know little or nothing about mosses and liverworts but there are so many of these things around here and they are so pretty, so I took a few photographs. As I walked down the first hedge a cock yellow hammer flew out. He comes daily to our bird table (I am presuming it is the same one) and a pair always nest in the particular hedge from which he flew out. I'm sure he is not prospecting for a nest yet or laying claim to the hedge, but it was nice to see him there.

Most of our hedge-bottoms are thick with sweet violets in the spring and I looked to see if any leaves were coming. They catch me out every year. I keep looking for the distinctive leaves and there is no sign and then one day I catch the telltale sign of that wonderful purple and they are out. Not a sign to be seen yet but plenty of young nettles. I would really rather like to try them boiled for lunch - they say they taste very good this time of the year - but the farmer will have none of it. Like the fiddle shoots I bought in a Farmers' Market in Canada - he refused to try them - they were delicious.

There is plenty of watercress beginning to grow in the beck but maybe too much pollution from slurry being spread on the fields to make gathering and eating the watercress viable. As we walk the first grey heron I have seen this year keeps rising up and preceding us. I try to get near enough to capture him in a photograph but he is too wily and ends up in the middle of the field watching for us to go.

We arrive home after walking for half an hour and I ring and book at our local cinema to see "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" next Tuesday - an evening to look forward to. The days are getting longer, the sun is getting warmer and there are lots of things planned for the future - so what is there to complain about? Absolutely nothing! Enjoy each moment is what I say.

13 comments:

Elizabeth said...

All's well with the world --well, your little bit of it.
So good to celebrate so much that is good --rather than to wallow in miserable stuff (of which there is an abundance). Loved these detailed closeup shots.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I love this time of year too! There were several yellowhammers singing yesterday in the farm fields I passed

Toffeeapple said...

Good photographs, I do enjoy seeing lichens and mosses even though I know little about them. You are lucky to have Yellow Hammers, I haven't seen any for years.

acornmoon said...

My dog does that too, they always know when its time for a walk.

Heather said...

Super post Pat and I love those lichens. I have never quite got out of the school nature table habit and still have to pick up a twig covered in golden lichen - there is one on the bookcase now! I watched a pair of longtailed tits this morning and have heard the first icecream van jingle of the year!! How wonderful to see a yellowhammer - haven't seen one since childhood.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I am eager to see that movie as well. So enjoyed this walk with you.

Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

Just sneak those nettles into something the Farmer won't notice them in - like meatloaf. Just tell him it's spinach ;)

My hubby is fairly skeptical of wild food such as nettles but bit by bit he's coming to enjoy it.

MorningAJ said...

Sounds wonderful. Glad you enjoyed it.
I took this afternoon off work (flexi time!) and went for a pootle round a couple of Derbyshire towns. It was great.

Dartford Warbler said...

I agree with Tanya. Put some nettles into home made soups and he won`t notice! A friend here also uses them in quiches.

Lovely photos of the mosses and lichens. Such subtle shades of green.

Hildred and Charles said...

You sound beautifully contented, Pat. I would be interested to know what a 'yellow hammer' is, - I have seen the name in a number of recent postings, so presume they are a springtime bird. I am watching for robins, and the first call of the meadowlark.

The Weaver of Grass said...

The moss had a good feed later in the day when we had a good downpour of rain - I have a friend holidaying in East Anglia and they had an inch yesterday (not that she would mind, she is a birdwatcher). Thanks for visiting.

H said...

Today, the weather is not so good, but it is still delightful to be entering spring again and there is definitely plenty to look forward to over the coming months.

EB said...

One of those rare moments when I am so, so glad to be further south - I crave spring desperately at the end of winter and the extra couple of weeks or so make all the difference to me. Autumn - I don't mind at all, it could easily be earlier for me, and the winter colder. Here our ealiest blossom is out - the really spare, airy ones that come before the leaves; I saw a bee zoom past me as I sat weeding yesterday, surrounded by hellebores and pulmonaria. Our forsythia is beginning to open but will be another few days yet before it's in full flower. I love your pictures of lichen; we don't have any in the garden (I suspect Gatwick is to blame but there also aren't many places it might grow, maybe). And I'm wanting watercress to eat now!