It Happens Every Year…

It happens every year, that day when you wake up and something has changed. Something is subtly different in the air around your face and the ground beneath your body. Lying in bed, you breathe in deeply and an unforeseen smile spreads across your face.

Somehow you just know that today is the day. The worst of winter is over. Overnight, the Earth has spun itself just that little bit further round and spring is on its way!

That day arrived here on Sunday. Not that it was different in any huge way from the day before or the day after, but something deep inside my cells felt the unique excitement, the swell of sap in tree-trunks, the stirring of bulbs beneath the soil, the hubbub of inter-communication peculiar to this time each year.

With my first mug of coffee in my hand I stood outside, watching the last wisps of mist curling around the tree tops, listening to the birds.

A nearby dunnock was singing to its mate; a simple, sweet refrain that I had not heard as yet this year. In the distant oaks, two jays were chatting to each other, making their odd, almost chicken-like clucks and wheezes. Down in the valley a cock pheasant coughed and shook his feathers, a warning to other males and an invitation to any lady pheasants. “This is my patch! Stay away!” “Here I am! Come and find me!” And a magpie flew right overhead, with a twig in its beak.

They knew it too. Spring is at hand.

Not that we won’t have more frosts (we might even have more snow) but the undercurrent has shifted, we’ve crossed the threshold. Life is stirring that much more vibrantly in plant, insect, animal and bird and if the frosts do come again, their visits will not last. As though to prove that point, this blue-tit puffed himself up to show that he wasn’t feeling all that warm yet!

I couldn’t wait to be off over the fields. It was a still day, light sun; the sort of day when sounds travel miles. You can hear a rook calling a mile away. On days like this I like to take my time (not that I ever charge around when I’m out and about). There is so much happening, so many things going on. I walk, stop, look, listen – and cover far fewer miles than I might. I love to touch and feel things too and often come back with my pockets stuffed with goodies, although I never pick anything living without permission.

Crossing the first field, I turned to look across at the beech woods that frame the valley. Yes! As I’d hoped, there was a tinge of pink there, the merest hint of buds breaking through before the green leaves unfold.

Lambs greeted me in the second field, dusky-footed and dark-eared. Initially their mothers ushered them away, but curiosity soon got the better of them and they returned to stand around me with that comical air unique to sheep.

I chatted to them for a while before wading through the stream and heading up the far side of the valley. Halfway up the hill is an old, crooked oak, with ferns growing in its creviced bark and a hole where nuthatches may nest in the coming months.

I let my fingers run over the craggy bark, spotting a number of creepy-crawlies who had been drawn out by the same impulse that had led me here.

Then it was on up the wide-stretching final pasture, until I reached the skirts of the woodland. Here I paused, turning back to drink in the scents and sounds.

The mist had given way to sunshine by now and valley was filled with birdsong: robins, blackbirds, chaffinches, an occasional thrush; the songs of the birds that stay here. Soon they will be joined by warblers and other migratory friends, but for now the air rings to the tune of relief and hope. Those who have made it through the colds of winter are happy to be alive and are bursting to tell the world about it.

For a while I sat in the sun with a smile on my face, my heart lifted by the same sensation. Then it was off into the tulgy wood, wondering what new adventures would befall me…

But that’s another story!

Best wishes, Essi.

10 thoughts on “It Happens Every Year…

  1. I am so envious! We were almost to that point a couple of weeks ago, then Old Man Winter decided to play a cruel joke on us. He’d been fairly mellow for most of the winter but, of course, he had to be nasty during our almost-spring festival that happens here every February – la Festival du Voyageur. We now have a foot of snow covering everything and the temperature is a good 10-20 degrees colder than it was, especially if you include the wind chill. Boo! I want to live where you do! 🙂

    • essitolling says:

      I’m sure we’ll see another cold snap before things really get warm again. There’s an old country saying “never trust a blackthorn summer” which means that even when the blackthorns are blooming, snow can follow…and the blackthorns are not yet in flowering here! Enjoy the snow – and wrap up warm!

  2. Lynn Costello says:

    Thank you for the gift! I could feel the morning air and see the hope of life as you brought the sun light forth in your musings!

  3. saffron moon says:

    Just sat down with a coffee to read this 🙂 The windows are open and although it’s nearly 6 pm..It’s light enough still to see the Starlings doing their usual late afternoon show above us…Been out with the Dog today and we found lots of Daffs and Croc’s flowering…I continuously search my pockets for something like a bag to collect up all my goodies..Have already Harvested a fresh crop of Wild Violets…I love our Countryside at this time of year 🙂

  4. essitolling says:

    Me too! I love the English countryside at all times through the year, but there’s something extra-special from now through to the end of May (perhaps my favourite month?). The violets aren’t out in the woods here yet, but daffodils are crocuses are…and there are still scatterings of snowdrops too. Happy collecting!

  5. I know you’re really busy, but because I love your blog, I want to give you the ABC (Awesome Blog Content) Award. If you wish to accept it, please drop by to grab the award photo to put on your page. 🙂

    • essitolling says:

      Thanks so much for this! You’re right, I’ve been away for a few days – I’ll drop by your blog and see what instructions I have to follow! Thanks again. 🙂

  6. ahhh i have been feeling it too, i do every year and it is always a little reminder that my path is strong. there is always a shift in ‘feeling’ and even smell when the great wheel turns and from that point i always have this little inner spark of excitement. i love it!

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