The day is so beautiful we had to go for a walk, though Nellie, now sixteen years old was less enthusiastic than the rest of us. With much barking and excitement we piled out into the sunlit garden. The forsythia is gloriously golden and the blossom just sprinkling pink and white dust on the other trees.
This is a lovely sight against an improbably blue March sky. The blooms have only appeared in the last two days. It has almost felt as though I could watch them burst from the bud – one of the advantages of a south facing back garden – the trees in the front are at least a week behind. I ‘rescued’ a dozen prostrate daffodils from the front this morning and was amazed to discover that their stems were actually frozen and snapped like shards of glass as I picked them. No wonder they were lying on the ground! Their bright yellow heads were unharmed by the low overnight temperature and frost – they are so much tougher than they look.
Once in the fields the signs of spring are all around. The birds are bellowing their songs and fly in aerobatic swoops and formations from tree to tree and back again. The ditches are full from yesterday’s heavy rain and flowing like streams and the ground is heavy underfoot. The low springtime sun is throwing amazing shadows in the water and across the fields, which are greening up almost as I watch. As we tread through the emerging nettle beds, a doe, large and obviously expecting to birth soon, is startled from her snug nest amongst the brambles and flees in silent dignity.
After she has disappeared my attention is caught by a flash of silver against the bright sky. It is fat, furry buds, polished by the sun, shining like gems on otherwise bare twiggy branches that have caught my eye. It is only pussy willow, common enough, but even the commonplace has magical beauty today.
Above the birdsong, as we approach the farthest boundary, I can hear the splash and fall of the small river. Swollen by the rain it is bubbling and burbling with renewed energy.
A little further downstream, the inquisitive nosings of the dogs startles a pair of wild ducks. I was far too slow to catch them on camera but their ponderous flight was yet another gift. I know they nest down on the river and hope we didn’t disturb them as they were setting up home.
They looked fine and fat, so hopefully now harm will be done.
Rosie and Lucy had no idea what they had missed and were more interested in the treats I was offering to make sure they were thoroughly sidetracked, though Lucy may have had an inkling that something was going on. ..the smell of fox was very strong here so I expect the ducks are far more adept at looking after themselves than I was giving them credit for. There have been wild ducks down on these fields for as long as I have lived here so they seem to have self preservation strategies in place.
As we made our way back along side the boundary ditch the dogs were driven to distraction by rabbits scattering in all directions. Rosie excelled herself and obeyed my commands to stay with only one or two swift buzzes of the alarm on her collar. Such a magnificent improvement on the times when she would run off and be gone most of the day. Sadly, Lucy refuses to obey and so has to remain on long (very long) lead. She ranged left and right at the full extent of her reach, managing to tie my legs in a wonderful crochet of knots and loops.
By now the hulla-balloo back in the garden warned that the patience of the three older dogs was wearing thin, so reluctantly we retraced our steps across the paddock towards the back gate. Wellie counted us all back in and Puppy appeared behind us as if to pretend that he had been following us all the way.
At the back door, the only imperative was food. Naturally all five dogs knew they deserved treats, if not for behaving on the walk, then for diligently guarding the house and garden while we were gone. How lucky we are to be able to enjoy the arrival of Spring.