Posted by: Ross Gardner | March 7, 2012

Sure Signs

Goat Willow (Salix caprea). Copyright 2011 Ross Gardner

Predictably, after enjoying the first warmings of spring, the wintry climes returned (around our way) with some decidedly chilly temperatures, howling winds and a decent helping of blustery rain for good measure.  A reminder, if one was required, that it is never a smooth passage from the one season to the next, which I for one wouldn’t want any other way.  It is a reminder also, and as I alluded to a couple of posts back, that we will cross that line were the ascent spring reaches the point of no return, with the cold blasts causing it to stall rather than recoil.

A class of infant school kids visiting me at Meadowfield this week made the point beautifully.  They had to put up with much of the aforementioned weather and coped admirably.  Part of the visit was for them to find and record the signs of spring appearing around the place.  I explained that the winter might have returned, but the spring was still there to be found – not hiding, but waiting.  It was good to see their enjoyment in discovering such things as the hazel catkins hanging on the bare branches just beginning to open up their buds and the Daffodils threatening the same with their flowers.  There were even a few ladybirds to be found, hunkering out the way of the gale.  All everyday things of the spring’s beginning, but such is the vicarious pleasure that might be gained through others noticing them for the first time, that a small amount that freshness can be experienced on each occasion.

A favourite of mine though, are the ‘pussy willow’ catkins that show abundantly around the crowns of the Goat Willow.  One of the first exhibitions of the copiousness of spring, these flowers are of supreme important for the early to emerge and hibernation-weary queen bumblebees.  A fine sight and a sure sign.

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