Candlemas Day – 2nd February
If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight,
If Candlemas Day be clouds and rain,
Winter has gone, and will not come again.
Spring is just around the corner … or is it?
The snowdrops are out and the frogs are hopping around the pond looking for mates, primroses are in bud and daffodils are peeping tantalising flashes of yellow ready to blossom into sunshine flowers. Then, just when you think Spring is finally on the way, the #BeastfromtheEast arrives and we’re in the middle of a snowstorm again. Only in England!
But it won’t be long before the primroses are out in profusion and daffodils and tulips will be swaying gently in the breeze. The birds are already dressed in their Spring colours and singing their Spring songs joining in the dawn chorus – and they know that the snow will soon be gone.
The hens don’t mind the snow, they are always eager to rush out into the fresh air and scratch around outside. The Spice Girls (our ex-battery hens – see previous post) have settled in and have become part of the family – at least two of them have – one didn’t survive the move and another managed to get lost somewhere – but Ginger and Meg (Nutmeg) now rush out to greet me every morning. They seem to be so grateful now they have settled into a ‘normal’ lifestyle. They still haven’t got many feathers (I tell them they will freeze in this snow but they take no notice) but their feathers should grow back eventually. They still don’t perch at night – they settle down in one of the nest boxes whilst the other hens roost in the rafters. But apart from that, they act like ordinary chickens and are part of Dillon’s flock (he’s the cockerel and definitely rules the roost).
When it’s cold and snowy the wild birds seem so grateful for the food on the bird table. I always thaw the water in the birdbath if it’s frozen and put extra food out. I watch them for hours – the long-tailed tits arrive all of a flutter, twittering to each other, the tiny wren, and of course the robin, showing off his best red waistcoat. We’ve seen lots of different birds this winter – even a bullfinch graced us with his presence for a few days.
Published in the March edition of the Whitchurch Gossip
Today’s Treasures – Snowdrops – Tiny Pearls of Springtime
The days are getting longer and the first flowers of the year are peeping through Autumn’s fallen leaves – snowdrops – tiny pearls of springtime, creeping towards the light; frosts may wither them but their fragile stems soon revive in the sunshine, they shake their petals free of winter and their tiny white bells tremble in the spring breeze.
Snowdrop Walks mark the start of the season for many of our historic houses and there are lots of early spring walks through snowdrop-dappled woodland. Rode Hall, just over the North Shropshire border, has a wonderful display of snowdrops set in enchanting woodland.
The snowdrop trail begins alongside neatly manicured lawns overlooked by a picturesque combination of unusual mature trees, through formal rose gardens, heavenly scented in summer but now lying dormant waiting for the first rays of the summer sun.
Through the gap in the hedge, a whole new vista opens out and you enter a wild woodland star spangled with snowdrops roaming unchecked, under the trees, along the brook, scrambling around the shrubs and bushes that decorate the landscape, and you can find a bench, or perch on a stone bridge, and merge with the magic of the trees, serenaded by robins and blackbirds and soothed by the sound of the stream bubbling over stones, watched by myriads of tiny snowdrop faces, studying their reflections in the water.
Rode Hall is open from Saturday, 4th February to Sunday 5th March (except Mondays) for snowdrop escapades for all the family (including dogs – on leads). The tearoom is open serving light lunches and you can warm up by the logburner with a welcome pot of tea and homemade cakes. The art exhibition in the barn is well worth a visit, showcasing creations by local artists – and not all of the paintings feature snowdrops! www.rodehall.co.uk
In the Druid calendar Snowdrops heralded Spring and first appear at Imbolc – celebrated on 31st January and 2nd February (Candlemas Day).
There are snowdrops walks all over Shropshire, including Combermere Abbey, Attingham Park, and Dudmaston Hall.
The Snowdrop Fairy
Deep sleeps the Winter
Cold, wet, and grey;
Surely all the world is dead;
Spring is far away.
Wait! the world shall waken;
It is not dead, for lo,
The Fair Maids of February
Stand in the snow!
Cicely Mary Barker
The very first flowers of Spring. Our very first visit to the cottage each year was to pick some snowdrops and I remember those journeys looking out of the car window searching the fields wanting to be the first to see the new lambs. That feeling of looking forward to Spring returns with the snowdrops. Mum used to say: “If you have good health, you can change everything else in your life.” As I am getting older, I have good days and bad days and I really make an effort to make the most of the good days – those days when you get up in the morning and feel like changing the world. But however you feel, whatever your health, you can always enjoy the little things in life, using your senses to the full, listening to a robin sing, watching blue tits on the bird table – and the scent of flowers – did you know that snowdrops have a very delicate, fresh, green smell?
The first signs of spring, tiny snowdrops peeping through frosty leaves. The days are getting longer, the birds are singing and Spring is on the way!