Well, maybe the icy wind is wintry, but the robin’s egg-blue sky and the bright sun says spring, and this particular Rutland village gives every indication of waking from winter sleep to a new year: dog-walking, gossiping on the high street and talking about gardening (the snowdrops are up at last).
My morning dog-walk was accompanied, for the first time, by quite a few decibels of bird-song and some species have already started nesting, evident from the (sadly) robbed and discarded egg beside the footpath.
I was a little worried that the red kite patrolling the field we crossed would mistake Kizzy the dog (cat-sized, ginger Jack Russell cross) for a hare. Thankfully, the kite peeled off without checking whether she was edible. She’s certainly slow enough to catch, but maybe too heavy to pick up!
The kite was making a noise I’d not heard before: a cross between a creak and a ‘tutting’ sound. At first I thought it was a couple of tree branches rubbing together, but realised it was right above me. The more usual call is a scream as it sails on the thermals high above: this chatter was new to me. Pity it wasn’t last weekend, when I might have clocked it as part of my Big Garden Birdwatch. Instead, sitting in my basket chair by the low kitchen window, all I saw was half a dozen goldfinches enjoying the last seeds of the verbena bonariensis, a blackbird and the resident house-sparrows. I say ‘all’ but that sounds mean. The goldfinches were charming!
Despite the cutting wind, there’s a desparate urge to get into the garden. I never managed to plant up the galvanised water tank that I rescued from a muddy field some weeks ago. It has sat, filling up with rainwater and snow. But I’ve borrowed a steel bar with a pointed end, and a lump hammer from one of my lovely neighbours, so I’m finally going to punch some drainage holes in it and start it on its new life as a planter. After all, I still have tulip bulbs to plant. Yes, I know it’s really late, but I’ve got them and it’s now or never, sink or swim. Maybe by June they’ll be up!