Talk about a change. There we were luxuriating in warm sunshine, enjoying the blossom, the butterflies and our first barbecue of the year. We’ve heard the first cuckoo and seen the first swallow but, ironically, the Spring Equinox has brought a little blast of winter with it. The weather has turned wet and blustery, cold enough to dust the mountains in snow (it’s the first we’ve seen here) and make us stoke the stove again.
One thing we have certainly learned about local people is that nothing stops them from getting out and taking their daily walks. It’s the old adage: there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes. So it’s raining? Pull on a coat and hat, grab your umbrella and step out! As I hadn’t walked down to the river for several weeks, I decided to do just that (trusty brolly in one hand, camera in the other) and see what was new. I love the warm sunny weather we enjoy here so much but there is something special, too, about this landscape on cooler, wetter days. They brings interesting changes to the quality of light and colour, and a different smell and feel to the air.
I was immediately struck with how quickly the trees are leafing up. The birch in particular have softened the woodland edges with their fresh green growth.
Between the bare chestnuts, the oaks are unfurling their shiny new leaves.
The pines are vibrant with bright orange cones.
Vibrant colour, too, from the Spanish Heath (erica australis). This is a native shrub that grows in huge swathes and has been flowering for several weeks now. The pinky-purple flowers are making quite a show in combination with the yellow gorse and broom.
At lower levels, the smaller plants are doing their bit, too. There are carpets of violets everywhere; in fact, there are so many down our length of woodland track that it is impossible to walk without treading on them, even on tiptoe. They are stunningly beautiful.
Other things are also making an impression, some of them instantly recognisable, others a little more unusual.
It is said that nature abhors a vacuum and it has certainly been busy filling the spaces where trees have been harvested with thousands of foxgloves; these will be quite a show in a few week’s time.
The bracken is also helping to fill the gaps, unfurling bright new fronds.
In the shadier places, I found the pretty white wood sorrel growing in beds of moss and fern. It is so dainty and unassuming, a far cry from its thuggish pink relative that makes such a nuisance of itself in the garden!
On my way back down the hill, I met one of our neighbours – who must be eighty if he’s a day – climbing the steep track with admirable speed. We stopped to pass the time of day and discuss the change in the weather; braver than me, he carried only his walking stick and hadn’t even bothered with a brolly. I hope I’m still zipping up and down hills like that when I’m his age, what a tremendous advert for the benefits of walking and fresh air.
Within sight of home and the promise of a mug of tea, the sun broke through the clouds.
What a lovely leg stretch: it might not feel too much like spring, but the signs are definitely there. 🙂