Sunday, 1 March 2009

Spring has sprung – in parts

My favourite time of the year? Spring is my favourite period, but as each season is succeeded by the next, so my loyalties change, and each in turn becomes the one most cherished.

Our garden is not looking its best at the moment – in fact it more nearly resembles a building site-cum-municipal dump. Unkind people might remark that this is how it normally appears. Even so, the signs of Spring are everywhere and we are confident that it will recover as it has had to do so many times in the past.

After the excitement of seeing a couple of frogs in our pond the other day there has been a sense of deflation because the expected influx of amphibians has not happened. The water remains ominously calm and the night warblings are missing.

All else in the pond appears to be as it should be. Water plants are beginning their sprint to cover the surface and all adjacent hard areas. Myriads of insects both in and out of the water are busily fishing, flying and doing all the things myriads of insects normally do. The fish are more in evidence as the days grow longer and warmer and bask in the sun, simultaneously keeping a weather eye out for visiting grey herons. The local crows are taking an interest in the pond, looking for a quick meal of grenouilles – indeed, not being connoisseurs of haute cuisine, they grab the entire luckless beasts and fly off with their wriggling prey. On occasion, the frogs manage to escape from the pitiless talons and plop moistly to the ground, often to live to hide (for they are woefully ill-equipped to fight) another day. However, for the moment at least, the crows must look elsewhere for their snacks.

Otherwise, Spring is coming along apace. The buds on shrubs and trees are swelling, daffodils are nodding their golden heads, hellebores are in full bloom. Yellow and purple pansies offer their faces to the sun as the last snowdrops begin to fade; crocuses show their jewelled colours, the wonder of the tulips is yet to come. The brown and yellow and grey of winter are yielding to the crisp green of new grass and shoots, azure sky, spinnaker clouds and gentle breezes. Naturally, all this can change and probably will but Nature is resilient and adept at resisting cold snaps of frost and late falls of snow. It is heartening to see the days lengthening – an extra fifteen minutes a week – and the cold clear nights allow a splendid view of bright Venus, shining improbably brilliantly.

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