The wild west wind is now our regular companion. In the garden, every day brings a new lawnful of detritus. The poor shredder has had an attack of the vapours and gone to convalesce at the repair shop. Hopefully it will recover as I still have a lot of mulching to do. In the meantime I have been undoing last year’s poorly conceived brainwave in the new border. (I let the foxgloves seed between the tulips thinking they would cover the leaves as they die back. Alas they are too big and have been crowding out the smaller bulbs so I have been rehoming them. Plan B involves poppies. I have saved seed from last year and am hoping it is not too late to sow. ). It’s a bit miserable though and by four I am pining for the log burner and an illicit sweetie from the Christmas leftover stash. Yesterday evening I ordered my seeds. As ever, far too many. I was so pleased with the china asters last year I have doubled down, ordering more of the same and also some giant ones. Quite where these are to go is yet to be determined. I am abandoning pot tomatoes and maxing out on herbs and chillies of differing varieties. It will be a spicy autumn.
Walking suits me more than gardening in this weather. Round the fields there is a restless excitement, the air racing in a shimmer across the top of the young wheat. With the friendly wind at my back, heading east, I find myself compelled to run fifty yard races with Lyra along the field margins, tree to tree. Any longer and I stand no chance of winning, but at 50 yards, wind assisted, I stand a chance. Lyra takes my intermittent victory dances with good grace but the wood pigeons burst from the trees in waves as we pass, for all the world like clouds of daytime bats fleeing the Pharo’s tomb. (I speak with some knowledge here having disturbed a bat colony visiting the underground Temple of Horus at Edfu many moons ago- the single most Indiana Jones moment of my life thus far). On the return leg Lyra dashes ahead looking windswept and interesting. Walking with the wind in my face in my oh so attractive “bobble hat with hoodie on top” look I make heavy weather. I suspect that if I were to jump in the air, like Wylee Coyote I would be pinioned there, legs scissoring, but otherwise motionless.
Two days later on the circular riverside walk we contrive, mysteriously, to have the wind in our faces all the way around. Squadrons of tufted ducks helter skelter past. Sailing downwind is their only option. Every now and then a bold formation rises and skims up river, a flash of black and white just above the water. As soon as they splash down the current shoots them straight back to where they started. Four swans rise like airborne manta rays, crossing our path to land in the rape field where they join thirty eight of their fellows, seemingly sitting shiva for a dead cygnet.
One day we take the forest walk in the hope of some shelter. The snowdrops are out, drifts and drifts falling all the way down the slope. We meet last year’s calves on the way back, wandering across the path. They are big lads now and Lyra is distinctly nervous of these former playmates as we weave our way through them to get to the cattle grid. I remember to get down to smell the winter heliotrope passing the bridge – yes! a clear whiff of almond slice. There will be primroses soon, or perhaps cowslips, on the bank. In the shelter of the trees and hedgerows the birds are gearing up for the spring cacophany; yellowhammers, chaffinches and great tits fighting it out for the high spots, blackbirds punching bird shape holes in the hedge bottoms. Overhead the buzzards are wheeling and keening.