It’s nearly the end of January, and the first time I have sat down to write in over a month. Outside, it is yet another deceptively mild day; more like November than January, in fact winter barely seems to have moved at all. There was a touch of frost before Christmas, but not hard enough to create more than a surface scum of ice on the bucket of water that collects the drips from the log store roof. This week a lingering high pressure system sent temperatures plummeting into minus figures for one the the first times this year; two days of fog, frost and sparkling sunlight before the grey returned. A dull, energy sapping, all pervading greyness with featureless skies and a breathy stillness. Today it is the damp that gives a chill.
I have been so preoccupied with autumn wedding organisation, planning October flowers, feeling all the hibernation vibes, that signs of the forthcoming spring catch me by surprise. I heard a blackbird sing from a hidden place in a leylandii hedge yesterday afternoon, and a woodpecker drumming in the edge of the woods. The lecturing tut of a great tit could be heard through the single glazing of the back door this morning; they’re coming earlier each day how. We get an average of 2 minuets extra daylight a day across the month. A blessing, but you’d be forgiven for hardly finding it noticeable on the grey dull days.
Hardly noticeable that is, if you don’t look. That’s the key to this time of year I think: looking. Or rather, looking and listening. Song thrush and robin have been singing for weeks, great tit lectures from the budding willow, dunnock hesitates. In the lane-side the mild weather had coaxed forth the first green shoots of celandine, arum, cow parsley. The buds of snowdrop. Some rooms of the woods the hazels have lit their chandeliers; they tremble with that anticipation of party preparations. Most of the guests have yet to arrive, theres still patience needed, readiness made, but theres a rising chatter.