Dear March – Come in –
How glad I am –
I hoped for you before –
Put down your Hat –
You must have walked –
How out of Breath you are –
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest –
Did you leave Nature well –
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me –
I have so much to tell –
March entered the park with a smile; eager and ready to bring the beginnings of spring growth and glory. My early morning walks are greeted with sunrise and frost but with an alert eye I can see the creeping catkins from the poplar tree and the beautiful blackthorn blossoms making their way into my sight.
My wanderings are under the watchful eye of silent, stalking pigeons and magpies sat high in the trees, like watchmen on the walls they guard the high places and occasionally make their mark by flying fast overhead.
Bird life is busy; we watch blue tits and blackbirds carefully collecting and curating nesting materials from our garden as the duck and drake continue their courtship in the river. Goldfinches, green finches, great tits, blue tits and the our favourite songster the robin frequent the feeders around our home bringing joy to the most mundane indoor tasks.
I’m now catching the ends of the dawn chorus as night turns to day; the layers of song fill the air for miles most likely lead by our choral experts, the blackbird or robin.
Our senses are beginning to awaken as life on the park makes it way to front stage; a bumble bee in flight, a ladybird hiding in a leaf, three herons spotted flying overhead and the comical sound of the green woodpecker hammering at the dead trees. Crocus in bloom, daffodils daring to rear their yellow heads, many sunrises and many March sunsets.
March brought snow and warm sunshine within the weeks we were graced with; premature sun chasers gathered children and brought picnics and blankets to the park but returned home to fires and tea – we’re not quite out of the woods yet.
March builds on the hope of February; what we knew was beneath is now appearing above ground and gleefully teasing our anticipation of a fresh start.
“Keep your faith in beautiful things;
in the sun when it is hidden,
in the Spring when it is gone.”
– Roy R. Gibson
February is kind enough to bring sweet whispers of spring; hope in the form of snow drops and aconites bobbing their heads in the late winter winds and rains.
The park is still dark, despite glimmers of sunshine we’re still walking under cloudy skies and in cold temperatures but it hasn’t stopped the natural world moving forward like it always does so faithfully.
The slightly lighter mornings have beckoned me outside a little earlier. One morning I took a slow stroll by the river and through the woods to be greeted by a beautiful mistle thrush guarding her territory as a flock of green finches chatted loudly in the trees above. I have to admit I gasped and stood watching for sometime, they seemed beautifully unaware of of my presence – or just knew I was a friend (smile).
This month we’ve witnessed life in pairs; two robins in the gardens, two squirrels stealing from my bird feeders, the male and female great tit flitting around the front of the house along with Mr. and Mrs Blackbird and we were strangely delighted to watch two drakes fighting for the same duck on the river; we’re not sure who won!
One evening we miraculously managed to get our whole family out for a walk together with our dog, Eli – we all stood in awe listening and watching the great spotted woodpecker knocking for attention on one of the trees above us, wonderfully choosing his tree in our regular tramping ground.
The catkins are peeping out and fluffing up nicely, a lovely sign of spring being just around the corner when we’re still getting snow forecasts on our weather apps!
Great tits, blue tits, long-tailed tits and cute stripy headed coal tits are regular visitors to our feeders at the front on the house – we still (quietly) squeal with delight and grab the camera when they’re tucking into our seeds and peanuts.
The greenery of spring bulbs are rearing their lolloping leaves amongst the snowdrops, the crocus are spreading colourfully across the grassy park hills and the pathways are brightening up beautifully.
I’m learning to lean into the lingering winter but my heart is definitely longing for spring.
“Chill airs and wintry winds! My ear has grown familiar with your song; I hear it in the opening year, – I listen and it cheers me long.”
‘Woods in winter’ – Longfellow
It’s almost one year since we put our house on the market and our year of major transition began; if you’ve stepped in the door of our new home, ‘Rehoboth’, you will have heard the story of God’s provision and our overflowing gratitude for this place of space He has given us.
He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land.” Gen 26:22
Our 1930’s extended English semi-detached home is set right on a city park; as I write I can see the squirrel attempting entry into my bird feeders as the long-tailed tits look on from a nearby tree wishing him away. The trees are waving their bare tops into a dark wintry sky and children are beginning to make their way through the park to their homes after a day at school.
We’ve lived in this home three out of the four seasons of the year and we’re excited to see spring explode from our doorstep.
So, here marks the beginning of a twelve-part series; I want to take you on an exploration of Life On The Park where I’ll journal what we see, hear and experience each month of the year. Are you in?
(scroll down for the audio recording, listen whilst you read!)
The darkness can be pretty overwhelming; really, apparently most of us living here in the UK are majorly deficient in vitamin D and I can see why. We really don’t see the sun; oh sure it gets light, but for days on end as the light comes up the clouds entirely cover the wide open sky and it’s as grey as you imagine when reading about the ‘menacing moors’ in ‘Wuthering Heights’.
The sky-line across the park is layered with varying shades of grey, brown and slightly orange bare trees; apart from the handful of evergreens in my front garden the tree-line is a scattering of charcoal-like spindly statues.
The gulls fly low, gather most mornings to swoop and squawk over the nearest field. The rose-ringed parakeets have stayed the winter and make their presence known loudly at times; despite their tropical origin, the parakeets are fully able to cope with the cold British winters, especially in suburban parks where food supply is more reliable.
The river is full and flowing fast due to the winter rainfall; you can hardly see the stepping stones my children love to wade through when I have enough energy to deal with wet clothes or bedraggled children!
Over the first few days of January we were visited by the impact of ‘hurricane Eleanor’; I was awoken by what sounded like rocks being thrown at our window and wind howling through any crack it could find. As the hailstones thumped against our window, thunder and lightning exploded right above our home; the room lit up blue but within a few dramatic moments the storm moved across the park and on to better things!
On one afternoon walk last week I was delighted to find the hazel tree had a beautiful display of male catkins shaking in the wind for our pleasure; the pink, star-like females are soon to follow winning first place in our calendar of firsts!
Through the frost and fog the birds are daily making their way to our feeders; long-tailed tits, blue tits, great tits, sparrows, and robins frequent the feeders whilst Mr. and Mrs blackbird along with their friend the song thrush graze on the seed and fruit I scatter on the ground.
The collared doves and pigeons clumsily gather in our back garden pecking at the remains of the day from the bird-table.
Our nature highlight for January, albeit gruesome, was our visit from a sparrowhawk whilst he devoured a small bird he obviously spotted on the Boden bird table. My children and I looked on from the school room window to see him pluck the bird bare then polished him off peck by peck. It wasn’t the most pleasant of sights but it was an incredible learning experience!
Shoots are beginning to appear but their identity still remains a secret; rumour has it the snowdrops are about to make an appearance in the park – I’m yet to spot them but I’ll keep you posted.