I was on my way home from the allotment (Wednesday’s summer’s evening before the big chill reverse) when I spotted the starlings. These once common garden birds are a rare sight nowadays, and this is a newish colony that seems to have established itself at the north end of the town. I know for a fact that they go every day to a chum’s garden for their elevenses and try to eat all the bird food she puts out. Later in the day I see them around the gardens that border the field path to the allotment. On Wednesday they had gathered on the power lines and were singing away, darting from wire to wire, for all the world like moving musical notes. They made me laugh. Next time if they repeat the performance, I’ll try to film them. For now a couple more bright-spark shots of them.
This sundowner view from the allotment tells me something has definitely changed. It was taken from my polytunnel doorway at 6.17 p.m. three days ago. Goodness. Still light after six o’clock! Spring must have sprung.
And yesterday, the last day of the month, it was suddenly tee-shirt-warm, blue skies above and wood pigeons cooing. A shock-reverse after days of chilling winds and passing hail. I watched the buzzards wheeling in wide arcs over Townsend Meadow behind the house, their haunting calls one to one. Around the place tree buds were swelling, daffodils doing their full-on gold, while over in the Linden Field the school kids were playing football, and the pre-school kids were swinging on the playground swings while their mums nattered together. For all the world it looked like Planet Normal. Who’d’ve thought it.
But then we should not have been fooled into thinking it is actually spring yet. The weather people did warn us there would be more cool days and frosty nights to come. And true to the prognostications, April has arrived cool and dull. It’s now a case of cherishing the blossoms however we can: blackthorn, cherry, japonica and pussy willow, celandines, primroses, wild violets and windflower wood anemones, and in Shadwell woods, the just emerging buds of Spanish bluebells. There will be warmer days to come. There will!
Last night, homeward bound from my allotment plot, I noticed the first blossom on the old damson tree. Only a few flowers were fully open, and then I saw this one had a visitor. A delicious spring foraging for ant-kind. I watched it for several minutes, wondering if I’d been missing something not thinking to lick the odd bit of fruit blossom. Anyway, it made me feel very happy – this scene, and that thought.
At the risk of bursting onto song, this April Becky wants us to show her all things bright and beautiful. It’s time to celebrate whatever gives our spirits a lift, or makes us laugh, or catches our eye. You can post something each day, or now and then when any kind of brightness strikes. The only rule: the image must be SQUARE.
Our early June arrival in New York coincided with a heat wave – 100 degrees F and every degree making its presence felt. We had thought that standing over the East River might have a cooling effect, but it didn’t. And so we did not bother to exert the energy required to cross the bridge to Brooklyn, only went midway then retraced our steps. Our New York-born friends were astonished when we told them. ‘You mean you didn’t cross the Brooklyn Bridge? You only walked half way?’ ‘Yep. Too hot.’ There were disbelieving looks. But then there was a stunning view of downtown Manhattan coming back.
It has an extra-terrestrial look, doesn’t it – this exploding pussy willow catkin. In fact ‘catkin’ sounds too confining a word for such exuberant expression.
Elsewhere around the town signs of coming spring are more reserved: delicate cherry and blackthorn blossom on otherwise bare branches, and earlier this week only a slightly seen green haze about the church yard weeping willow; while everything is otherwise accompanied by a bone-biting wind that has the daffodils and me bracing ourselves.
The Linden Walk still looks wintery, although there are carpets of wild garlic everywhere – the leaves good in soups and stews and salads and for making pesto sauce. I’ve also noticed interesting colonies of lower plant life on the lime tree trunks, lichens and mosses and the like. And squirrels…
And on the home front the daffodils are lighting up the garden by the road.
And stepping out of the back garden gate I came upon a cat with green eyes…
Today on her black-and-white challenge Cee says show her anything to do with flight, so this photo seems to hit the mark: two-in-one I’d say. The tumbling jackdaw was snapped a couple of springs ago at St. Bride’s Castle, Pembrokeshire.
Summer left on our first day in Greece. We might have woken to hot and dazzling sunshine, but by lunchtime the storm clouds were building over the strait. And then came the deluge, torrenting off the pantiles on our cottage roof. Maria, the cottage owner, said it was the first rain in months and after the broiling summer (that we’d only just missed) the olive groves and vineyards were desperate for a good watering. So it was hard to feel too hard-done-by as, before our eyes, the parched Kalamata land sucked up the downpour.
The thunder racketed around for a couple of hours, and finally rumbled off in late afternoon, leaving us with still threatening clouds but, by then, a pressing need to stock up on provisions. We had been told that the nearest supermarket in Harakopio village was an easy two-mile walk. And so it was: a tranquil path between small farms and ancient olive groves; no traffic; only the scent of damp leaf litter and sometimes the delicate fragrance of tiny cyclamen along the verges. There was farm clutter of course along the way, but that goes with the territory. Hens scrattled about under the trees and handsome dogs kept watch over their people’s domains. There was a rather nice horse. Now and then the sun almost shone and I fell in love with gnarly olive trees that looked at least as old as Odysseus.
This month Jude at Travel Words asks us to explore the colour green. So I thought I’d start with our home landscapes. Here in the English countryside we perhaps take greenness for granted. Even our over-wintering fields are bright with sprouting wheat and pasture grass. The header shot is a December view, looking across Shropshire from Wenlock Edge.
Closer to home is the long-shot view I see whenever I go to the allotment: Callaughton Ash on the southerly edge of Much Wenlock. It’s one I never tire of – those sky-line ash trees with their ivy cladding.
Then behind our house is Townsend Meadow. Wheat has been grown along the flanks of Wenlock Edge for centuries, and as proof has left its name ‘The Wheatlands’ in part of it. These days the crop is sown in October-November and is usually well sprouted by Christmas. I like the corduroy effect.
By summer, after serial dosing, the field looks like this:
And on our side of the fence, thanks to home-made compost:
Meanwhile my summer route across the field to the allotment used to look like this – before the farmer cut the ‘wildlife’ reserve back to the ‘path’:
And when things go well on the plot:
… we get other ‘greens’:
This week Amy at Lens-Artists has set us a fine task – the pursuit of natural light. It’s one of the aspects of photography that fascinates me most; especially when it’s in short supply. Anyway, I instantly thought of the strange light effects that happen across the Menai Strait between the North Wales coast and the island of Anglesey, caught here during various December sojourns on the island. All the views are looking towards the Welsh mainland and Snowdonia.
Winter – spring – winter: we have been sorely teased over the past weeks, though it’s true that February may often prove contrary, breaking out in fleeting intervals of unexpected warmth. This year, after hard-frost beginnings, we had several days of sudden spring, and he who is old enough to be more weather-wise started casting clouts and layers with abandon. Too soon, I told him. Winter’s not done. And besides, March can be cruel. Hang on, good sir, to fleecy vests and quilted combinations.
And so here we are, the first days of the new month with much sky-gloom and creeping dankness, again the pressing need for woolly gloves and hats, and that’s just indoors. I joke. Well almost. But in spite of the cold, there are signs of spring: the blackbird singing its heart out just now in the Station Road holly tree, doves on the church tower in close-canoodling-cooing huddles, daffodils fast opening. Reasons to be cheerful. Absolutely!