…when, after all the dark mornings, the snow, the wind and the rain - the endless rain - you go out to feed the birds, turn your face to the long-unseen sun and an unfamiliar warmth touches your cheek. You stand there for a moment, eyes closed, not quite believing it, letting it soak in to body and soul; and as you absorb the warmth, you notice the birdsong - and how it has suddenly changed. How it now has more than a hint of busyness and excitement about it. Other creatures are doing the same as you…soaking up the sun and rejoicing - for they, too are onto the delight-filled realisation that the first fleeting signs of springtime are here.
You know that sort of day?
There have been a couple of them now, here at the cottage, but oh, how special they are. And now that the weekend is here and two pairs of hands are available for 'operational duty', we have spent almost all day in the garden, willingly and contentedly, basking in the sun as we go, rather than wrapped to the neck and gritting teeth against the perishing wind, getting on with those jobs that most need to be done when plants are still close to dormant.
A large branch has been taken down from the old apple tree, and I've trimmed back twenty four Penstemon plants - bought last year as rooted cuttings, a 'Gardener's World' offer for a fiver from the very friendly Hayloft Plants ('run by ladies' - so even more pleasing!) and starting to flourish anew. Well worth potting up for a year before planting, as they now all have sturdy root systems, ready to go out in a month or so…
But I've also taken time to just wander round the garden - assessing what jobs need to be done, but also getting 'up close and personal' to the new growth everywhere - and being astonished at just how much of that new growth there is. You've got to get down close to see and photograph that new growth - and that is just where we human beings need to be more often - closer to the earth again. Back in touch with the feel and smell of the soil seems to put me back in touch with myself.
Take the first of what I hope will be many walks around with me, as yet another year starts in earnest here in North Hampshire in England, at Autumn Cottage Garden.