Saturday, 12 April 2014

Full of the Joys of Spring

Spring is well and truly sprung here.  The first daffodils, which were out in time for St David's Day on 1st March, have faded unnoticed in the later-flowering clumps still spilling down the hedgebanks, punctuated by hummocks of primroses, gleaming lesser celandines and starry stitchworts.  The first hedge parsley flowers are starting to sprawl into the road already. Furry willow buds have opened to reveal catkins and the blackthorn is in flower, turning lengths of hedgerow sparkling pale green and white.

As I whisked into St Clears to stock up on cat food from the farmers co-op this morning, I cursed myself for having left my camera at home, although I would have had to stop frequently for the photo opportunities.  As I drove, I kept saying 'Ooh, look at that!' to myself as I passed drifts of wood anemones and cuckoo flowers, and old cottage garden walls dripping with purple Aubretia. Swallows are zipping everywhere. In the town centre, a large, old magnolia tree completely covered in flowers dropped drifts of petals onto the crossroads.

The month started strangely for me.  I had to wash sand off my windscreen when I went out to teach, and then found I didn't have my camera to take pictures of the spectacular sunset.  The following day, I saw on the news that the sand had come up on the wind all the way from the Sahara, and that in some English cities it was mixing with pollution to create poor air quality.  That night, I watched a programme on the potential survivability of a volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami on La Palma, and woke to news of a magnitude 8.2 earthquake and tsunami warnings in Chile. A couple of days later, I was looking at patterns for cotton yarn and came across a sweater for ferrets. That night, I had to do an emergency stop on my way home, to avoid a beautiful (yes, really! sleekly plump, furry and gorgeous!) polecat who had decided to stroll across the road.

Since those few creepy coincidences, things have settled down a bit.  The cats and few remaining hens are enjoying the better weather.  In the past couple of weeks, one of the hens has even started laying a few eggs, an unexpected gift as they are all getting on a bit. The hens have settled down to being without a cockerel since he and another hen died within a week of each other during the wet weather in winter.  Red succumbed after a series of strokes which left him paralysed on one side. Although he was a good, well-behaved cockerel, he didn't like being touched and I would not have tried to pet him for fear of losing a chunk of flesh while he freaked out.  After his second or third stroke, he gave up trying to go up to the perch, but chucked happily away and tucked in with gusto when I put food and drink next to him in the run, and became a real tickle-monster, crooning when I stroked his neck and back feathers.  I would have had to cull him if he hadn't been so apparently happy, poor lad. Fudge had been badly hurt during the dog attacks a couple of years ago, but she came through with some sort of granuloma where the feathers and skin had been ripped on one leg. It affected her walking a bit, but she was fine otherwise. So she lived an extra couple of years, then went downhill very suddenly and died the same day, a few days before Red.

In the last set of gales, the tree which held the sparrow hawk nest came down.  At least one of the sparrow hawks is still around though, and seems to make a daily visit to the bird table next door. I was watching a little warbler hopping from branch to branch in the elder tree in my back yard and wondered if it was a willow warbler or chiff-chaff. Then it started to sing - chiff-chaff-chiff-choof-cheef-chaff-chiff-chaff. Sweet, but not as entertaining as Mr Jackdaw, who sits either by the nest-chimney or in the tree across the road, chattering away and preening in the sunshine.

We seem always to have a period of fine, dry weather here in Spring.  I so hope we have a sunny summer again.  I think I missed the best of last summer, unable to drive and spending a lot of time sleeping after the operation on my foot. I want to make up for it this year, but in the meantime, I'm full of the joys of Spring!

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