03 March 2012

Punctuation and presents

It's a frog's life... After the few weeks of frenzy, things seems to have settled down in amphibian arcadia. The spawn is now left to fend for itself; no harried parents worrying about night feeds, homework, study, too many beers and what time did you get home last night? In the pond near the house, the spawn I transferred from the little pondlet has matured to a series of commas; fresher spawn remains as full stops for now. Not stopped at all of course, although perhaps the cold weather forecast for this week may slow things down a little. 
(again, thanks for the photo, BvG)

Frogs aren't the only ones with a spring in their step. Have a listen to this songthrush claiming his neck of the woods from the branches of a willow tree by our local stream.

B made a brief visit to Holland this week and came back armed with presents - a gorgeous little book on Allotments (bought in Architectura & Natura, one of the nicest bookshops in Amsterdam) and a new camera for me. Very kind. 

The Allotments book is timely -- tempted out by the gorgeous weather this week (we've had the warmest February in 14 years) and by the fact that suddenly it's March, I headed up to the allotment to see the lie of the land; literally. And the lie of the land is not the problem... the healthy growth of scutch grass and creeping buttercup is. Worse still, I know there's bindweed lurking there too. I'm sharing the allotment with a friend and it's all new to me and more than a little daunting to be honest. Happily, the day I went up I met our neighbour Stephen--an experienced nurseryman and allotment holder--who filled me in on some of the allotment news, gave tips on what to do when confronted with such a Sisyphean task ("don't ever look up at what's left, concentrate on how much you have dug already") and introduced Izzy to his dog Daithi. His plot is also an inspiration. It was altogether a lovely start. I'm planning to take it in small steps - some spuds in soon to break in the soil and provide tasty goodness in the summer and there'll be some other bits and bobs too of course, but most of this year will be preparation. I want to put soft fruit in there in the autumn: raspberries, gooseberries (just for the gooseberry and elderflower jelly that I make each summer), redcurrants, strawberries. Yum. And I also want to work out a rotation system of sorts (brassicas, legumes, roots, onions). Busy times ahead! The good news is, there's a son willing to be bribed into some of the hard digging and a good friend who's willing to share the work and the produce (looking forward to it guys!). 

The warm weather of the last month has meant that we've a really early spring this year. I know that with climate change our weather has lost its innocence, but still I find it hard not to bask in the unseasonal warmth, and I'm not the only one. The fat sticky buds of the Horse Chestnut are opening (always the first: being a Turkish immigrant, this tree doesn't know about the dangers of late spring frosts in Ireland and meanwhile the Ash is holding tight); the squills are spreading their blue mantle ever wider; daffs and other spring flowers are early; bumble bees are lurching unsteadily through the warm spring air; early blossoms are out; and I was stopped in my tracks by the delicious lemony scent of my now blooming witch hazel when I got back from my walk the other morning. 

Horse Chestnut buds starts to unfurl

Scilla verna, revisited

Spring comes into the house
Early blossom in the park

Finally this week, for a glimpse of a different spring ("...spring is climbing down the crystalline ladder of rain") see the poem Perfume can pass through bars... by Abdul Samay Hamed that I've included on a new page on the blog.

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