Tuesday, 6 March 2012
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.