Year turns end on end
Promise lies waiting
As I walk
With hushed expectancy
Pondering the dawn
Of the new year
Tired of sewing, it’s time for a walk. The rain has stopped and the sun is playing peek-a-bo behind the clouds. Boots on. Rainproof on. The post office first, getting the jobs out the way. Car tax paid. Ouch. Letter posted. Hopefully that will bring a smile when it arrives. Then I head up the hill, towards the playing field. The sunshine has carpeted the edges of the field with wildflowers, blossoming in the heat. Through the snicket gate and along the back lane I wander. Long grass soaking the bottom of my jeans. The scent of the freshly washed green surrounds me, a moist warmth. The cow parsley is in full flower, nodding its head as I pass by. In the lea of the hedge, a few bluebells linger on. There, as I watch, a butterfly drinks deeply of the scent of spring.
Down the shore we crunch, stones rolling under our feet. Not far. A couple of steps. And there, within reach of the boat ramp, they lay. Bright yellow flowers wave in the breeze. Raggedy leaves. He stoops and picks a sprig. Sea radish. Tentatively we try it. A hot kick. Goose-grass sticks to our trousers. We sample a portion. A small patch of vetch curls up it’s tendrils – a taste of spring peas. Then on to the next plant – sea beet. A smooth oval leaf. Gingerly I tear off a portion of the leaf. Salad greens for the picking. The scurvy grass lays nestled under the shelter of the beet. Full of vitamin C. Not sure about the taste. Dandelion lies in the shingle. One tug and it comes out, roots and all. We move onwards to the stream that runs down the bay. Otter territory, this is. Usually I look for the spraint. But today we find water mint. And hemlock – much to be avoided! We slither onwards across the shingle. Orache, sea kale, nettle. Getting braver, we sample all. Onwards again. There lies a clump of sea campion, heads nodding in invitation. Try me, it seems to say. Honeyed petals, sweet to taste. Delicious. Suddenly the shore becomes a dining table.
NB this was a guided walk organised as part of world oceans day. It was led by Mark from Galloway Wild Foods. You can find out more about wild foods and foraging on his website, and you can find out about other events he runs. My morning run may never be the same again!
The mist over the lake rises with the sun this morning. Herald of a hot day. The flowers trumpet the warmth of spring. Buttercups open to the light, glowing golden. A butterfly briefly rests on the grass, wings outspread. The reed beds are full of birdsong, a celebration of life. Mountains rise to cloudless blue sky, and a meadow pipit spirals up to join them.
In shadowed valleys and hidden nooks, winter still lingers on. Reluctant to bid farewell. Yet down on the shore, spring is arriving. The rock-pools are resuming their busy lives after the long rest. Sea flowers spread open in their beauty before my eyes today, drifting gently to and fro on the undercurrent.
Mesembryanthemums grew in the front yard last year. A long name for a small and colourful flower. They bloomed vigorously into November, then died back, leaving a mass of sprawling stalks behind. Now the sparrows are preparing for the nesting season. Busy little creatures, constantly flying too and fro. The remains of the ‘mums’ are providing bedding for them. In the clear light, the birds are revealed in all their glory. Russet head. Tawny back, with plumage shading from deepest chestnut to pale amber. Soft, downy chest feathers. Such beautiful birds.
NB photo taken in New Zealand a few years ago – our sparrows wouldn’t stay still long enough!
Winter cold wind blows. Flurries of sleet and snow. In the garden, work is is underway for the coming spring. Tidying, sorting, finding seed containers. In a quiet corner, the recent rain has formed an impromptu pond in a bucket. Hidden from curious eyes, sleeping away the worst of the weather, hides a frog. A welcome guest in the vegetable patch.
The weather here is much more volatile than up on the south-west coast of Scotland. In the last week the temperature has plunged below zero several time. We’ve had high winds, freezing fog, rain, mist and sun. The washing has frozen on the line, and almost been blown across the valley. The mountains have been covered with snow one day, and the next has been bright sunshine. The dog and I have basked in the spring temperatures of 11 or 12. In the south facing sun-lounge in this house, the temperature has reached a hot 24 degrees occasionally. The plants don’t seem entirely sure what to do – open out or retreat back into the soil. Today seems to have settled on spring again. Down in the park, the catkins are dangling, looking like miniature caterpillars. And in the garden, the daffodils have emerged with trumpets blazing, just in time for St David’s Day.
Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus! Happy St David’s Day! Off on my travels again tomorrow, leaving the dog behind in the care of one of other ‘aunts’ to await her owners return on Monday. I’m going to miss having the dog to look after. I’m heading to the south of England to help a friend clear out her mother’s house. Her mum has just died at the age of 100. A fair age, and a death more of a release than a sorrow. But with the traveling and the sorting, it may be a week or so before I blog again… or it might be tomorrow!