Indoors the fire is kindled;Beechwood is piled on the hearthstone;Cold are the chattering oak-leaves;And the ponds frost-bitten.Softer than rainfall at twilight,Bringing the fields benedictionAnd the hills quiet and greyness,Are my long thoughts of thee.How should thy friend fear the seasons?They only perish of winterWhom Love, audacious and tender,Never hath visited.
This morning, as the curtains opened, here were three wood pigeons in the birch tree – and one still next-door, in the lime. Everyone in this picture is keeping a social distance, but it’s still four weeks to the birds’ wedding day on Saint Valentine’s.
Every year the wood pigeons nest in the tall birch in next door’s garden, while there are two old collared doves’ nests in our apricot tree.
Usually the pigeons stick together, perched in the same tree, even upon the same branch, but this month one of them has been resting in one of the lime (tillia) trees we planted after the hurricane, which are now big enough to take a collared doves’ nest at least. The two birds were within sight of each other.
Which tree would the wood pigeons choose? Were they utterly estranged, or perhaps strangers to each other; I had no way of telling. But this morning both were in the birch tree. An early sign of Spring?
Violets are blooming in their understated way, creeping out of the bed onto the public footpath.
Yesterday, 2nd January, I surprised this pheasant within Canterbury’s city walls. He flew up from the river bridge into the former Tannery housing development as I cycled over the Stour, and ended up perched on this window sill.
I guess he had escaped the New Year’s shoots somewhere to the West of town and followed the river’s green corridor, across the main road and Saint Mildred’s churchyard till it narrowed to the width of the river and a row of old willows with the flat faces of the homes hard against them. He had perhaps been sharing the ducks’ breadcrumbs at river level, and panicked when I rolled up.
Let’s hope he survives; he deserves to!
Even the bees are feeling the spring in mid-February.
I hope it warms you too, even if another beast from the East appears next month. And there were worms and centipedes in the compost heap that Abel and I were harvesting. A day to be out of doors!
One morning a couple of years ago a group of people awaited the arrival of the substitute librarian at Wood Avenue branch library in Folkestone.
I looked up and saw this skyscape. The black line at the top is the top of the library wall. Standing in the shadow allowed me to capture the two faint spectra in the grey sky created by the cold and the neighbouring English Channel. Re-organising files allowed me to share the picture!
The Folkestone libraries were very welcoming to my students and me; lets hope that can continue for my colleagues despite the financial constraints.