The batteries are running low on the fairy lights, and it’ll soon be time to take our Christmas tree outside, re-pot it for the new growing seasons, and let him feel the frost and the sun on his needles.
A flat, weak sunlight filters in through the small pains of the window in a half-hearted attempt to twinkle off the baubles and dried orange slices. Beyond the glass, movements keep catching my eye and drawing my gaze away from my laptop, where fingers tap absentmindedly in a not-really-fooling-anyone pretence of typing.
I’ve been keeping the feeders and table topped up with treats, and small birds are back and forth with urgent frequency. Blue tits are the most numerous, although a pair of great tits use their larger bulk to hold their own against greater numbers. A coal tit nips in and out whilst the others squabble. Here in the front garden, peanuts are the popular choice, but a quick glance at the alternative feeders in the back garden this morning reminded me to scribble ‘fat balls’ on the bottom of the post-Christmas shopping list.
A song thrush is singing. I can hear his repeated notes drifting across the green from the edge of the woodland. I scan the topmost branches of the ash trees for the thrush, and think I spot a possible silhouette. Even at this distance the trees are identifiable, defined by their tall slender growth and the large black triangular buds the tip each twig. The young trunks are used as masts by sails of ivy, green on grey.
As we fumble our way through this food-coma, what day of the week is it, limbo time between the Christmas festivities and the arrival of the new year, it is traditional to look back and review the last 12 months and maybe make some plans for the coming seasons. In that same spirit, I thought it would be interesting to revisit some past blog posts here on Sussex Field Notes. January 2018’s post are a relevant now as there were at time of posting, featuring not only the first of my seasonal ‘What to Look for’ posts, but also ‘How to Guides’ such as ‘Feeding Garden Birds’.
If like me, the grey winter weather already has you dreaming of spring blossoming and sunshine through fresh leaves, the February’s ‘One From The Archives’, or May’s ‘Wealden Worship and Wrens in the Woods’ will see you right.
After a long cold wet winter (remember that?) the summer of 2018 turned into a scorcher (who could forget?) with temperatures reaching +30*c and drought conditions settling in over much of the country for several months. The end of July saw the school holidays begin with the rare forecast of endless sunny days; the perfect excuse to get outside and try out some of the ideas I shared in my Guide to a WILD Summer Holiday!
Of course, summer always ends eventually, bringing change and new adventures. As we said ‘Goodbye September, Hello October’, there was a big change in my own life to share with you. New home, new outlook on life, how could I not be inspired to write for National Poetry Day?
Then of course there was ‘Harvests End’, when we celebrated the closing of the year with a seasonal supper before turning inwards for winter.
Looking back over all these moments captured throughout the year is inspiring. I’m going to have a good read, maybe make a few notes, perhaps jot a to do list, then look forward to the coming season. Distracted again by the birds on the feeders outside the window, I watch them flit too and from the fruit trees on the green. My inspiration for 2019’s blogs is right outside; trees. As rooted in our own history as they are in the soil, host to bird, invertebrate, myth and legend, trees are part of the fabric of our land and lives. Trees surround every moment of my own life, from the huge and ancient cherry tree that presides over the centre of the green outside my home, to the logs I stack in the fireplace on chilly evenings. Even the branches that cradle the rookery I pass under each morning on my way to work, of the canopy that offers shade or dappled light to my lunch break walks. From identification to ecology, to history and uses, I hope to make 2019 the year when I really get to know Trees.