From the vaults: Winter loosens its grip … (03/03/2010)

Winter loosens its grip …

… if only by a little.

Living at a relatively low altitude (around 350 feet) it can be easy, even after years of walking the hills, to overlook just how different things can be at even quite modest elevations.

Although temperatures have yet to pick up significantly there is a changed feel around the garden and its immediate neighbourhood: Crocuses are opening, along with early Cyclamen; tiny nodules on branches are developing into recognisable buds; the blue tits finally seem to have accepted that the old nest-box isn’t coming back and have set about the business of appointing the new one to their tastes.

So it was with something of a surprise that I stepped out onto the car park – altitude 800 feet or thereabouts – to find the ground frozen brick hard and the run-off from the hills a treacherous sheet of verglas. And it was cold, very much winter cold, once out of the lee of the hill and into the teeth of the wind. Few people seemed to be out and about; all of them well wrapped and moving briskly. I was glad not to have been deceived into leaving a layer behind and it was another small lesson in the wisdom of never going out under-equipped.

Sitting here now, back at the computer, the sun has gained enough strength to warm the rooms at the south of the house and, out in the garden, shoots are clearly visible which were still to emerge even a couple of days back. Nobody’s fooled.

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