Tag Archives: spring

Spring greens

Vibrant new growth photographed on a day with some sunlight. I love the colour, and the intensity of new life emerging from the soil. There were bees, but I’m not fast enough with a camera to capture and image of one, and have much the same problem taking pictures of small birds. Plants I can manage!


Seasonal Walking

It wasn’t so many years ago that I used to do long walks as part of how I connected with the seasons. For the last 18 months or so I’ve been so relentlessly ill that my walking range has dramatically reduced. On a good day now I can go about a mile before I need a serious rest. That’s a hell of a lot more than many people have, and far less than I used to have.

I used to depend on the length of time I spent outside, and on the distance travelled for my feelings of connection to the wild world. I can’t do that now. I have to focus on details and in many ways that’s been good for me. I have to pay more attention and make the most of the time I get outside.

Today I saw that the garlic leaves are emerging from the soil. There are flowers on some of the wild fruit trees. I saw dogs’ mercury, which also has flowers on it. The small birds are very active, and there were also a few crows around where I am not used to seeing crows, so that was interesting. I also saw a heron in flight.

I’m fortunate in where I live. There are trees, fields and waterways right on my doorstep. I don’t have to be able to walk far to encounter some other living being.


Nature at Imbolc

Here in the UK, snowdrops are strongly associated with Imbolc. I saw my first flowers a few days ago, where they have emerged through last year’s dead leaves. A perfect visual metaphor for the year turning.

It’s also a time of year when locally, the elf caps tend to appear, and I’ve seen a few of those in recent days.

Spring also means catkins. Some are open now, but some, like these, are not.


Waiting for the leaves

There was one spring, more than twenty years ago when I remember the leaves not coming out until Beltain. This year, the spring in the UK has been unusually cold. Some of the trees have leaves, some are starting to open, but there are a lot of bare branches out there. It still doesn’t feel like we’re easing into the warmth and bounty of summer.

A certain amount of variation is normal and natural, but this cold, and this late greening feels like climate change. The unpredictability of the weather makes it hard for everything – me included  to adapt.

Some time ago I made the decision that I would do my best to love the natural world in an open-hearted way, regardless of the impact of climate chaos. That I would try to embrace and love as much as I can. I find the absence of leaves, the lateness of leaves really hard. But, I can celebrate the ones that are already here, and I have felt their presence keenly.

I note that in the wooded places, the undergrowth is unusually verdant. The jack in the hedge is really tall, the nettles are flourishing and the garlic is prolific. There’s a lot more happening at ground level than happens most years. This may well be a consequence of the late leaves.  In the absence of one kind of greening, we get more of another. What that means is hard to say.


Spring and Cowslips

How spring plays out in terms of wildflowers varies a lot from year to year and from place to place. This year, the celandines and violets have appeared in remarkable profusion around my home, and I’m still seeing a lot of them. Fruit trees have been abundant with flowers as well. I don’t have a fantastic visual memory but even so I’m confident I’ve seen more flowers on blackthorn and soft fruiting trees than I normally would. However, I hear from friends that their apple flowers locally are late.

In the last week I’ve seen my first buttercups and cowslips of the season.  I’m watching for the kingcups, but I’ve not seen any of those yet. Soon, it will be time to go looking for orchids. Last year I only found one bee orchid, which was an unusually low number.

There must be a lot of variables impacting on plants. How the winter went, what the spring temperatures are like, how much rain there is – and different plants are all adapted to thrive in slightly different conditions. Sometimes, if you know a plant well you might have a sense for how it will respond to the conditions as a year unfolds. I don’t have that depth of connection and am generally surprised.

I watch with interest to see what flowers when, and enjoy watching for new plants as the year progresses. The cleavers seem to be doing really well this year, and the garlic is growing large and lush.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to get onto the hilltops for the bluebells and wood anemones, but remain hopeful.

Cowslips are especially significant for me, because they were rare when I was a child. A plant pushed to the edge, they have somehow made a comeback during my life and as such are a symbol of hope, to me.


Blossom on the branches

This is a wild plum that grows on the cycle path near my home. It’s a beautiful tree, and one of the first trees in the area to blossom in early spring. The plums that come from it are very small and tart, and I usually manage to eat one or two in the autumn.

Seeing this tree flower always lifts my spirits. It’s an important marker of the turning year, for me.

The odds are that the tree was planted by someone throwing away a plum stone. Fruit trees are generally propagated via cuttings and grafting because that’s the only way to guarantee what the fruit will be like. Anything that grows from a seed is unpredictable. Even if the fruit it came from wasn’t wild, I think the resulting tree always is, because it wasn’t created by human intent.


Spring arrives

Last weekend it was definitely winter – cold, grey and a bit grim. Spring arrived suddenly, having flirted with us a few weeks ago, it has now moved in. The light is brighter, the air is warmer and the birds are much more active.

I’m especially noticing the woodpecker calls. I haven’t seen the woodpeckers themselves yet, but no doubt will. Last year, a pair nested somewhere near the flat and their calls were a constant presence through the summer months. I suspect they are going to do that again this year.

For a week or so now I’ve been really conscious of the growing length of the day. I’m waking earlier as a consequence. This is the first winter in many years where I’ve not been following clock time and have not had an alarm to wake me. I’ve always hated having to get up in the dark. Rising with the light has been so much more comfortable. Now, as we move into spring, the light comes earlier.

I hope that as we move into the lighter part of the year I will be able to keep rising with the light. I love walking in the early morning in summer. Much depends on whether I can then nap later in the day as I really don’t do well with reduced sleep and this is always a problem for me in the summer.

The most comfortable times of the year for me are spring and autumn, when the temperature doesn’t mess with my body, and the balance of light and dark best suits how I sleep. It’s a good feeling, moving into those weeks when I’ll genuinely feel in harmony with the natural world, rather than having to work out how to cope with it.


On the cusp between winter and spring

There were some days last week when it felt like spring. The wild garlic is coming up, there are snowdrops blooming, and the birds were singing in that way they do when they are thinking about mates, territories, nests and eggs.

Then we were down below freezing again, and there will be a few days of bitter cold. The transition from winter to spring is seldom smooth, which is one of the great challenges for everything trying to breed at this time. Start early and maybe get an advantage and time for a second brood.  Or get caught by the frosts, and set back – it’s true for plants as well as creatures. Spring is a gamble, one way or another.

Often at this point in the year I am so deep in the darkness of winter that I feel out of kilter with signs of spring. This year I feel ready for spring, I crave the sun more than ever, and I am heart open to those hopeful signs of life. I too need to put out fresh leaves, unfurl a bit, work out how to make new and to come back vibrant and entirely alive.


Spring and courting birds

I expect there are a great many birds out there right now establishing territories and seeking mates. I don’t know all of my feathered neighbours well enough to spot the changes in what they do. However, the blackbirds and woodpeckers have been really noticeable over the weekend.

The blackbirds seem – in so far as I can tell – to be squabbling. It doesn’t look much like courtship at this stage, more like figuring out who gets which spot. I’ve stepped outside repeatedly only to find them making a great deal of noise and chasing each other off. It’s not always easy with birds to work out whether chasing is about the desire to catch or the intention to move the other bird on. However, the tone seems irate to me.

The woodpeckers are simply making a lot of noise – often I don’t see the birds themselves. I hear their loud calls even through closed windows, and they’ve been doing this for some days. It’s rare to hear them normally, the intensity of calling has definitely gone up. I am inferring courtship, but this could be about territory. Most of my reason for inferring courtship is that I know they’ve bred round here in previous years. You don’t tend to get as high a population density in woodpeckers as you do in blackbirds so boundaries may be less of an issue. Yesterday I saw a pair of woodpeckers in flight – some distance from home, but possibly the same ones.

What I notice and what I infer may tell me things about what’s on my mind. I do not assume messages from any other source when I notice things in this way. The blackbirds and woodpeckers are busy with their own lives. Any meaning I take from them pertains to me, and I think it’s important to be clear about that. Nature does not exist simply to send us messages and guide us.


First leaves

It feels too early. I’d expect the fruit trees to start flowering around now, but there are leaves unfurling on a number of trees as well – most notably the elders in the more sheltered spots. I can remember springs when there were very few leaves until April and one year, May. Spring did not used to start before March round here.

The garlic is coming up, it too is early. I’d expect to see the first shoots about now, but we’ve got whole leaves out there, and lots of them.

At the margins all kinds of small, leafy plants are appearing. Again, too much, and too soon.

This is a friendlier face for climate change. On the plus side, a longer growing season will take more carbon out of the air. Even so, it is a manifestation of the chaos we are causing.

When talking about climate chaos online I’ve had people ask me what I’m afraid of and what I imagine will happen. I can only assume some people must be really disconnected from the world not to know that change is already here. We have chaos. We have storms the like of which I’ve never seen before at a frequency that is startling. Places that didn’t normally flood are under water.

It’s going to be expensive. My hope is that short term climate chaos will prove expensive enough to focus the minds of people who want to carry on with business as usual. It’s not so easy to turn a profit when you’re on fire, or underwater. I hope that there is still time for a bit of waking up and getting real.