So here is just a sharing of my day. No great insights or achievements, just life in this corner of the world. I am trying to do enough Spanish from my Open University course to cope with my second face to face tutorial tomorrow. Last time there were only two of us which doesn't leave any place to hide. I'm enjoying it but remembering things is a nightmare: I read, I understand, I think I have got it, I do a practice exercise and all seems fine; I return a few days later and it is almost, but not quite, as though I had never done it at all. Slippery memory. And then every now and then I find I can remember whole chunks without a problem. Is this age or incompetence? I have no idea! Plugging away seems the only answer.
But it has been so grey and dull here for days and days and today the sun is shining and everything is bright and clear. It is calling me though the window. I just can't stay inside any longer so I take my camera and wander round looking for signs that winter will turn to spring. I am not a winter person. I don't like the darkness and the dankness and the short days although I do like the evenings by the stove! But when the sky is blue and the light is bright it feels quite different. It must be light levels making you feel more alive! I stand looking across at Moel Arthur and the shadows of trees and hedges sharp against the green fields. In the hedge in front of me I can hear a bird singing and at the bottom of the bare hawthorn hedge a blackbird is tripping in and out of the hedge oblivious to me.
There are snowdrops thrusting up through the leaf litter in the bottom of the hedge in the side garden. In a week or so there will pools of white under the trees. I love snowdrops. The last couple of years have meant that there has not been time to split the clumps in the white or in the green and spread them around the garden so they are not increasing as fast as they do with that assistance. Still they appear and spread themselves around and colonise places you had not thought of, just getting on with their lives as plants do. It is easy as a gardener to think that you have to intervene and salutary to be reminded that sometimes it doesn't matter all that much if you don't.
The arum is emerging too, its marbled leaves as lovely as any flower. This came from Christopher Lloyd's garden, Great Dixter, years ago. It grows slowly up here, but it does grow.
On the sunny bank the winter flowering heather is out. On a warmer day than this you would see the bumble bee, bombus bombus, lurching heavily from flower to flower but there is no sign today. Too cold perhaps.
I walk down the field to see if there is anything happening amongst the native trees we planted, seven years ago now. I smell this daphne before I see it, a handful of scent thrown in the air, catching at you with an elusive and subtle sweetness. When spring properly arrives the colour of spring will be yellow, with daffodils and primroses. Now, a few weeks too early for real spring, it seems to be pale pink or the icy white of snowdrops.
For the first time for years we have no hens and the field feels oddly still and quiet. It is strange. You couldn't say the hens are noisy and yet their clucking, scratching presence is part of the life of the place and without them there is a silence. Suddenly I hear a thunder of hooves from the next door field. Our neighbour's pony is galloping up and down in the sunshine. He ends up in a corner behind the holly tree where I can't get a photograph but as far as I can see he is doing it for the sheer pleasure of movement.
The white stemmed birches are vivid against the sky but at their feet I can't find any sign of the crocuses I have put in. I'm not sure yet whether they have been eaten (badgers get the blame for all sorts of things round here) or whether they have simply not emerged yet. I hope they haven't been defeated by the grass but if they have I might have another try with crocus tomasiannus.
The very first of the hellebores are flowering, a little battered and hanging their heads. Soon the deep purple ones will be out. They hold their own better out here than the pale ones but both are beautiful.
The shepherd's hut is tucked up in the corner of the field. I should go in and make sure everything is all right but I haven't brought the key with me. I should light the stove too and warm it up. Our new stove in the house is so very warm and cosy that we are tending to sit beside it every evening. I know the stove in here makes the hut just as warm. It is just a bit more of a commitment to set off in the dark over the field to make the fire up! I will do it and we will sleep here if the bright days and cold nights are to continue.
There are other signs of spring to come too: daffodil snouts pushing up under the apple tree.
Fat buds on the camellia, flushed so faintly with pink you can hardly see it yet, against the deep gloss of the new foliage.
I think it is time to bring some of this new life into house. I will go inside for the secateurs: daphne I think.
Spring is just around the corner.