As I stepped out one fine Spring morning…….

spring blossoms

 

Yesterday was Ostara, the first official day of Spring, but in fact the first signs have been slowly becoming more noticeable around my neck of the woods over the past couple of weeks…(brightly coloured swathes of crocus’s and violets, glorious sunshiney daffodills all growing on verges or in people’s front gardens) ….we went for a walk last Sunday, and although it was a bit chilly (so felt the benefit of numerous layers , my Tif inspired scarf and beautiful Ella Gordon gloves which get compliments everytime I wear them out) the sun was out and it really felt like Winter was leaving out the back door while Spring was springing through the front……

 

first of the blackthorn blossoms

 

The hedgerows are full of beautiful snowy white blossoms, the most delicate floral petals bursting out over branches that a few days before were bare and miserable looking…..it’s always amazing to me just how surprised I am at how different everywhere looks once things start blooming and poking up out of the ground or bursting out from tiny brown buds……This is blackthorn blossom, hawthorn (or may) won’t be out for another month or so, although it’s been such another mild Winter here in Norfolk that flowering times have gone out the window from what they were……a good way to know what they are is that blackthorn will blossom before the leaves are showing, and then hawthorn waits for the leaves to come first and then bursts into flower…..

For years we’ve had snow in February, even if December and January have just been a bit nippy, but for the past two years we’ve had no late spring snowfall…..and I really miss it.  Last night I dreamt it had snowed and was so happy in my dream, and had planned to go for a walk down over the marshes with my boyfriend because everywhere was going to look so beautiful…when I woke I fully expected outside to be covered in white drifts of snow…and felt really down hearted and disappointed that it had been a dream, which I appreciate is quite daft, and if I’m honest I’m glad it hasn’t snowed as it’s a bit harsh on the plants and wildlife after the warmer last couple of weeks…..

 

blossoms in spring

 

I was quite excited about the eclipse yesterday morning, I remember the one back in ninety nine and how everyone was outside and looking through holes in paper as the sun was slowly covered and changed in shape…. by comparison yesterday wasn’t much to write home about….the morning was really overcast, and cloudy, so the sun wasn’t really viewable at all, but still when the eclipse happened the light dimmed somewhat and it felt a little like the air pressure changed, how it is before it starts raining or there is a storm.

While it was happening all the little birds that only moments before had been a bit sing songy but mostly concentrating on eating the food at the bird feeders, all started twittering and chirping in unison….it sounded like twilight or dusk when they begin to get ready to roost down for the night….and then most bizarrely, Bernard and the two cats from next door all crouched down low on the patio and began to mewl most pitifully….it was very eerie to see them so upset and restless…I went to stroke and coase Bernard but the look I got given made me think twice about that……. this all lasted for about 20, 25 minutes and then the birds quietened down and began feeding again, and the cats began to wash each other and then chase each other round the garden like nothing had happened……

 

blackthorn blossoms

 

I don’t know if this was regular cat and bird behaviour but it certainly felt very strange to experience….. I needed to go into the city and chose a different route in (with the sole mission of checking out a couple of charity shops I’d not been in before)…it was pretty cold still when I set out and then as the morning got under way, the sun indeed came out and it was a glorious and warm Spring day…..in fact by the time I returned home I was glad to remove some layers and take off the thermals……

 

alder tree near the riverside

 

Back to last Sunday though, we walked by a different part of the river (we walked along here just after Christmas when the trees were so bare and stark, and we saw the “bottoms up” trio of swans)…….. and everywhere there was signs of Spring being heralded in..the alder trees by the water’s edge were covered in fluttering yellow catkins…they looked like tiny prayer flags dancing in the wind….

I love seeing the tree reflections in the water below, in the picture it almost looks like the catkins have been reflected but in facts it’s the willowy slim tree trunks……

 

alder catkins by the riverside

 

Alder trees are quite easy to recognise as they have the yellow catkins along with lots of tiny little cones on the branches…..the cones are in fact mature female catkins, and the dancing yellow and much more showy catkins are the male ones…..I’ve always liked picking the tiny cones, they are so tiny and perfect.

 

alder catkins

 

Alders grow in abundance along the riverside and this time of year they look fantastic, the yellow catkins dance and move about in the slightest of breezes…..

 

alder cones

 

It’s no wonder we want to decorate trees and branches in the Winter, it’s almost like paying homage to how the trees are naturally adorned in the spring, with cones,and seed pods and catkins….. (though I love seeing sycamore tree seed clusters and London plane tree seed balls in the Autumn)

 

fluffy catkins by the riverside

 

Along with the alder trees there are clumps of willow growing, and right now they are covered with fat little catkins, furry and velvet feeling and as soft as kitten fluff or a furry bunny…I can never resist a little feel of them, so walks in Spring are slow as I have to keep stopping for just one more rub between my fingers…..these ones were lovely, the catkins were still tight and quite firm so I could really “pet” them…. in parts where the sun shines more and they aren’t so covered then the catkins have already started to open up and sprout bright yellowy green stamens which will keep forming until they become proper long yellow pussy willows (the word catkin is actually old Dutch and was the word for kitten)……

 

a little tinker's cutie

 

This adorable fellow (though they may well be a lady) was the reason for Sunday’s walk, normally we tend to ramble around over the marshes behind our house, oh, and I totally forgot to mention how the other weekend we’d been walking along a hedgerow that borders the railway track and I’d said to my boyfriend as I could begin to hear the rumble of the train approaching, “When I’m by myself I always wave at the trains and then pretend I’m Jenny Agutter in The Railway Children…..” (being a forty something woman I hope you will appreciate I do know any resemblance that may ever have been is strictly in the dim and distant past) and he said “well I’m not stopping you if you want to wave today”…so I climbed up on the stile and began waving as the train came into view….and what a treat…it was a proper old fashioned steam train, whistle blowing and lots of “toot toot tooting”…I couldn’t believe it, and waved like mad at the people on the train (they probably thought I was a right loon though they were all waving back) actually I was so amazed that I was crying and laughing all at the same time as it was just completely unexpected……

Anyway (apologies as I know I jump from one thing to the other (it’s the way I talk so it ends up being the way I write) we decided to go see the little ponies, and donkeys at the Little Tinkers pony sanctuary….it’s not that far from where we live and the residents are always happy to have their ears scratched or tickled, and their coats patted…..this angel was so gentle, I think they were a tad disappointed that I didn’t have an apple or bag of carrots but was still quite content to let me give them a good old fuss….

 

a little tinker's sweetie

 

 

And then this cheeky character stepped in and decided they’d like some fussing so lots of ear scratching and telling them how beautiful they were followed…..we don’t always do this walk as the trek by the river gets really boggy and damp when it’s wet and in the Summer it’s full of mosquitos and other flying biting things…but at certain times it’s just right, and really when you see these poppets then it’s always always worth it…..

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3 thoughts on “As I stepped out one fine Spring morning…….

  1. Lovely peeps at spring. Bringing back memories again. When I was at school the playground was next to the railway line and it was so exciting if someone took the time to wave to us from the train, I’m sure it works the other way round too! Keep waving, make some little child’s day and your own too, I’m all for spreading a little cheer!! I occasionally wave to random drivers when I am driving, a big cheerful wave, it’s great fun, I might just bring a bit of cheer or else give them something to puzzle over for the rest of the journey!!

  2. Lovely Spring pictures. When I was a child we always used to wave to trains. So did my children. I don’t know why we all stop when we ‘grow up’…We have steamrollers go by every Summer and we always wave to them 🙂

    1. I guess we get all self conscious and too self aware…it’s like running with windmill whirling arms…did that the other week on a walk (to demonstrate how I used to run to the boyfriend…he looked well and truly mortified) and I also skipped home from Waitrose one evening in the twilight…it felt great though couldn’t do it for long as it was a bit tiring and just ran out of puff!

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