The Spring is Sprung

Daffodils in bud
Daffodils in bud

Dare I hazard that Spring is quietly creeping around the place, sneaking a look at what she can expect if she makes a commitment to actually arriving? Friends say I am mad, that we could still suffer a rapid drop in temperatures with attendant snow, wind and rain – let alone the dreaded BLACK ICE! I, however, favour the more optimistic version and point in the direction of the daffodils that have actually been in bud for a couple of weeks now and which are forging ahead in the otherwise naked gardens.

White japonica with spring growth
White japonica with spring growth

And yesterday I caught a glimpse of snow-drops as I walked past a house with a ‘green’ garden. That is, one planted with small buxus hedges, well-trimmed ever-green shrubs, palms and topiary. There was  a simple, winding gravel path leading eventually to the front door, each curve giving access to the plants situated further back in the beds and all enclosed in beautifully trimmed leafy hedges about 4 ft high. I love gardens that look like this – so controlled.  (or is it ‘contained’?)This garden was tiny by most standards, but it was loaded with impact, purely because of that control (containment) and because of the obvious care that had gone into its design and maintenance. Various shades of green played the part of absent colours, providing the dynamics of contrast – of light and shade, of cool and warm and of rough and smooth. The snow-drops added the final touch.

Japonica with spring growth
Japonica with spring growth

Around us, though, new buds are popping all over the place and it was fun freezing my hands off taking photos of a few of them.

The lake is also looking pretty damn good and I am adding three pics showing how different it is without the 5 shades of grey. (see my blog: Winter- The Final Frontier).This is for Lloyd.

The Canada Geese are back.
The Canada Geese are back.

The Canada Geese are starting to come back, just to upset me. I spotted a pair yesterday, grubbing around in the grass at the edge of the lake.  Noisy, dirty and aggressive  individuals they are, too. When the weather gets better and they all arrive to nest we will be greeted by bird s##t all over the paths and roads and appalling noise every morning as the sun rises. I am sorry to say, that once the fluffy stage is over, there is little to recommend these honkers except perhaps the part they played in the Saatchi and Saatchi ads persuading us all to ‘work as a team’. (Talk about social engineering!  And they do look very elegant when flying in formation as long as they keep their beaks shut!

Finally – because I was a bit of a slouch and did not post this when I wrote it, I have indeed been beaten by the snow!  It arrived this morning – light and fluffy and not too difficult to contend with.  Just as well too, as today, we picked up my new car!

And finally, finally, a few lines that I first read over 50 years ago and which I have cherished and chuckled over ever since.

The spring is sprung,

The grass is riz,

I wonder where dem boidies is?

The little boids is on the wing.

Why, dat’s absoid –

The little wings is on the boid!

Snow Days

White 'blossom' now.
My pink ‘winter blossom’ is white now.

Congratulating myself now, upon not having  bought my worms yet. This time, my procrastination has worked in my favour and that of the worms, I guess.  If you follow my other blog,  clevercomposting.com,  you will know that a kilo or so of ‘red wrigglers’ is about to enter my life, inhabiting my new worm farm.  The little dears are probably quietly winding around each other, still warm in the worm nursery, enjoying a mass orgy.  This means that I will not be going outside and finding a communal  grave in my yet- to- be- installed worm farm. Thank heaven for that – it would have been too devastating.

The drifting flakes are falling constantly now and the typical snowy hush has descended upon us. It is a Sunday, so traffic is almost non-existent and apart from neighbours introducing children and pets to the joy of playing in the snow, there is nothing much happening.

Poor Ponga
Poor Ponga

The cabbage trees across the road and the tree ferns in pots are bearing huge loads of the white stuff, their green blades bending under their unwanted and un-asked-for burden,  poor things. They are surely craving the warm sun and rain of home now, hating the freezing blast that is paralysing them and which will, eventually,  turn them brown and rotten.

The local ever-greens,  still showing signs of life, are bending too, sharing the load with their foreign neighbours, but with their tough leaves handling the strain far more successfully.

 

The lakes are not frozen yet, but should the temperatures nudge down a bit,  that ice will creep over the surface of the grey, grey, water shutting out the few birds that are still in evidence and sending the fish into a state of drifting coma. To me – it’s a miracle that anything survives at all. Bread moistened and tossed out onto the lawn, is ignored by the few birds that fly overhead. Not like NZ, where it would have been snapped up in an instant. So much to learn! I guess I will have to buy a proper bird feeder and buy seeds and stuff.

At the supermarket.Tomorrow we will have to go out to get some food. Our car does not like the snow, so we will probably walk. Not too far, thank goodness, and the outing will stimulate us – get the blood running again.  I wish I could get interested in walking round the lake!

Winter – the Final Frontier…….

OMG I have just realised how long it has been since I last wrote in this blog. Not since August last year. The past months have been totally taken up with getting into our new house, doing renovations, unpacking, and just getting all the everyday bits and pieces sorted. Then we had Christmas with all the attached brou-haha and now we are half way through January. (How’s that? Three and a half months in three lines.) Soon be summer and then Christmas once more. Shudder…….

 Now, winter is well entrenched and strangely, even M and I are already suffering from a lack of ‘outside’.  There is little incentive to go for a drive and a relaxing lunch when everything is grey, the roads are icy and the temperatures are below freezing. The same goes for a walk around the lake. It is bleak and quite beautiful in a stark, almost minimalist fashion, but just not appealing enough for someone who does not consider ‘walking for walking’s sake’, a priority.

"Our Lake"
“Our Lake”

It is fascinating, though.  Winter here, because of the preponderance of deciduous trees, offers a whole new view of previously secret places. Suddenly, the stately home up the road and down a long drive can be seen in all its glory. The shape of the lake that, in summer,  is completely hidden by the lush foliage of beech and birch, can now be truly appreciated.  Everywhere is now open to prying eyes, allowing  passers-by to snoop, to re-assess the gardens up the street and to check out a neighbour’s new extension or pool. What fun!

The novelty is short-lived, however. An all-pervasive grey continues to shroud the country-side, its effect compounded  by the clouds of vapour and smoke  curling out of heating vents and chimneys on every side. The odd blue-sky day is short-lived, ephemeral, its passing barely noted except as a momentary relief from the Pantone-like colour swatch depicting shades of grey that is now our daily expectation. The sun has no warmth, unless experienced through the glass of a conservatory and even then, it is a weak imitation of the real thing.

The Seagulls Playing on the Ice.
The Seagulls Playing on the Ice.

And…..the up-side? Well, we have a crash-hot  heating system. The fact that I need it set at a sky-rocket temperature compared with everyone else is a minor glitch, and I don’t care.  Lack of out-door excursions means LACK OF CALORIES. I have decided there is no finer way to conduct a diet than to avoid all restaurant and cafe eating.  I have time and a greater inclination to blog – not a bad thing at all as I am a great believer in ‘doing’ as a means of doing, if you see what I mean. A case of ‘don’t want to do’ – ‘improve’ – ‘love to do’.  I would love to take this opportunity to do heaps of cooking, too, baking in particular, but after the Christmas fiasco of food, food and yet more food, I am quite easily resisting the temptation.  I still have a pack of fresh cranberries in the freezer  though, that I bought before the holidays  to try a new  cake recipe I found on Pinterest. Can they still be called fresh, though?  Oh well, never mind. Maybe after I have lost a couple more kilos……

Finally, there are books, thanks to various second hand shops that support charities around the neighbourhood and the excellent Waterstones. Books on composting of course,  and – just published, the final book in the Robert Jordan (RIP)series “The Wheel of Time”.  Bliss – I cannot wait to start it, but of course, starting means finishing and that is not a happy thought and then, I realize that I have taken pleasure from these books for over 20 years now. A big chunk of my life.

A Wintry Blue Sky
Wintry blue sky.