Country diary- In the bleak midwinter, the hedgerow waits for warmer days | Phil Gates
The annual ride on the ferris wheel of the seasons was approaching its lowest point- the winter solstice, the shortest day. Dank preceding days of fog, relentless rain, mud and dawn-to-dusk grey skies brought the temptation to curl up on the sofa and enjoy nature vicariously through the pages of a good book.
But then a north-westerly Arctic wind delivered today’s crystalline frost, frozen puddles and blue skies. A shivering, brisk-walking sort of day, until a small flock of birds had me frozen to the spot. Long-tailed tits, a dozen or more, bounding along the hedgerow in my direction. A troupe of avian acrobats, searching every twig for food morsels, never still for a second, like excited schoolchildren on a class outing.
Soon they were all around, oblivious to my presence, so close I could hear the rustling of wings and soft contact calls. Could there be a more heartening end to a year than to be surrounded by these hyperactive balls of fluffy pink, grey, black and white feathers? One bird, so close I could have reached out and touched it, dangled upside down, holding on with one leg while it picked out something lodged between the toes of the other, before moving on to join the flock.
There’s an anthropocentric temptation to interpret all that frenetic energy as exuberance. Really, it stems from their dire need to find enough food to survive. After they’d gone, I looked for what they might have been seeking on those lichen-covered twigs. A five-minute search yielded only a small spider, a couple of aphids and what might have been insect eggs – meagre fare in these short, freezing days of winter.
There was something else, uplifting, in that blackthorn hedge- four seasons on a single winter twig. A few purple sloes, the product of flowers pollinated nine months ago, some lemon-yellow autumn leaves still clinging on and, among them, tiny, tight clusters of flower buds; spring pre-packaged, ready for warmer, longer days when this hedge will be white with blossom, not frost.
The ferris wheel of the seasons slows but never stops, and will soon be picking up speed again as the days lengthen after the solstice.
(News Source -Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Times Of Nation staff and is published from a www.theguardian.com feed.)
Read Also- Latest News | Current Affairs News | Today News | English News | World News Today
TimesofNation.com offer news and information like- English newspaper today | today English news | English news live | times of India | today news in English in India | breaking news in India today | India TV news today & Hindustan times.
You can Read on TimesofNation.com latest news today, breaking news headlines, Top news. Discover national and international news on economy, politics, defence, sports, world news & other relatively current affair’s news.