Posted by: Ross Gardner | March 27, 2016

Arrivals and Departures

Wood Anemone 3 (resize)

Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa). Copyright 2015 Ross Gardner

I think the spring, more than any other time and irrespective of the prevailing weather, stirs thoughts of change.  This is largely down to our having had enough of winter and thus the lengthening days, even if layered with cloud, battered by gales or lashed with squalls, bring with them an indefatigable cheer.  However one might try to write on more unexpected topics to give the reader something of an alternative take on things, the sense of promise and transformation in the spring air is nigh on impossible to ignore.

As part of the predictably capricious (is that an oxymoron?) Easter weather, we have had a day of warmth and sunshine.  Is there anywhere better than the woods to experience such a day?  This is where I ended up.  Looking for Wood Anemone in troops, tracing the passage of the sun, angled in unison as if in communal worship.  Listening for the first of the year’s singing Chiffchaff, that eponymous song perfectly designed to reverberate among the still leaf-bare boughs.  Hoping for the flit of butterfly wings – candescent yellow Brimstone, or warm orange Comma perhaps.

They were all there, I am very happy to recount, harbingers each.  I regard myself as lucky to be able to anticipate such things and find them realised.  There may be a subtlety though, that is easy to miss.  Perhaps there is something of that ‘alternative take’ to be had.  We always see the spring coming, often long before it actually arrives.  But we are less likely to note the winter’s leaving.  Walking home from visiting friends later that evening I gave the departing season a nod.  The mile-long walk was punctuated with the needle-thin sounds of Redwing, calling high up in the dark sky on their night-time migration.  It is a sound that would probably require a knowing ear to hear it.  One which has been given comment and poetic mention on this blog before, but as a companion of the long nights, not a signal of spring.  The sound of the winter slinking slowly into the shadows.


  1. Beautifully described.

  2. Thanks Nicola.

  3. I love this

    • I’m very pleased that you do. Thank you.

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