photo by Andreas Trepte
The question is Shelley’s and finds its answer in what has gone before in the Ode to the West Wind:
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow
Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth …
Spring is here already, waiting for moment to blow her trumpet to announce birth and rising.
For me Winter arrived today when I saw my first redwing of the year, come over from Scandinavia to spend the winter eating berries. My one was on a hawthorn bush. The next movement across my handlebars was a lesser spotted woodpecker. Two good sightings to celebrate winter.
There is a hint of France on the horizon in this picture!
Speeding along the Channel Coast – yes speeding – I fancied I could see the monument to Napoleon’s Grand Army on the ridge of hills behind Ambleteuse. That fine, hot summer two centuries ago did not raise a wind to get the men, horses, artillery, supplies and camp followers across to Kent, so back to barracks they had to go. Enterprising oarsmen from ports like Broadstairs and Dover are said to have taken tourists across to see the enemy ships; from a safe distance of course. No doubt the fishermen used the tides and currents to help speed them back and forth.
The Orange Army of engineering workers worked in all seasons to reinstate the track between Folkestone and Dover and enable us to speed along this afternoon. Well done them!
Read about the work here.
I don’t know why this has been sitting in drafts for weeks, when it’s illustrated and all. Foraging seems a long while ago, with most leaves down and a wind trying to blow them and us away these last two days.
A month ago in Yorkshire, Mrs T and I took a walk which included a stretch of easy going along the old railway above the cliffs. Someone, sometime in the past, must have tossed an apple core from a train onto the bank. The fruit are small; green but with russet patches, and sharp. Maybe someone had been there before us – someone with shorter arms than this writer’s, as the half-dozen fruit I harvested were high above my head.
Added to blackberries and sloes, we have a Yorkshire marinade for Christmas. A good set and sharp enough to counter the sweetness of the goose.
Advancing age inspires caution when tackling physical tasks. I first observed this as a teenager, working in the local park. The old guys, as we thought of them, got as much and more than we did in the day with less effort. They weren’t afraid of work; most of them had been miners, but knew how to look after themselves as they worked.
So I try to plan jobs to take account of my aches and pains. Now, though, it is important to remember Robin, who takes great interest in whatever we are doing. Today it was stacking logs, just delivered from the orchard, to keep us going through the winter.
For Robin the logs were a source of dainties. After a year or two’s seasoning they had a population of woodlice, worms and other creatures, some of which were disturbed as I moved the logs, only to be pounced on by this miniature bird of prey.
We managed to work alongside each other very successfully. I’m sure he’s as good as any young Robin can be at self-preservation.
A walk in the woods with Abel, now 16 months old, is another story. I’d greet all the dogs as a matter of course, but he enjoys them to the point of bubbling with laughter; there is disappointment that the brambles are now bare of blackberries, but even so he (and I) appreciate the seasons; puddles are for throwing stones into and exclaiming ‘splash’, or as near as we can get, while a big pine tree is for hide and seek. Happy Days.
Robin has not come indoors again, but here he is, watching the back door from our old Welsh angel. This stone came from St Tydfil’s churchyard in Wales. I was working on the clearing of this ground some years ago and rescued this stone from the bulldozer and the skip. The angel has guarded our comings and our goings since we moved to this house. If we don’t make a conscious prayer of thanks for God’s protection on our home, we once and for all made a concrete prayer when we put the stone on the wall.