Friday, February 20, 2009

Spring is here - we hope!

The spring apple-green lily leaves of zantedeschia aethiopica are peeping from the drain. Even the evergreens are refreshed; the green glow that is spring infused in everything. Our piebald cat with amber eyes rolls on the sunny south side of the cottage. The first brave saffron flowers light the one gorse bush by the duck-house informing us as reliably as daffodils that spring has finally sprung - hooray!

Our local ‘hoodie’ crow scolds me from the telephone wires – his sap is also rising - hormones have the better of him! Blue tits and Great tits are scrapping for peanuts. Our scarlet bottlebrush (callistemon), has cheered us from November with its aptly named bristly flowers – we are surprised as it is frost tender and normally flowers in summer – Is it because it originates from the southern hemisphere, Australia, and its summer there now?

The new stone Buddha sits oblivious in meditation posture among the potted plants and strawberry runners, gone into Nirvana.

Close by, a Great tit’s loud insistent call fills the garden with enthusiasm for the season. They arrive in gangs before dusk, all the titmouse family, to gorge in preparation for the coming night – tonight is going to be cold; the wind has dropped and the sky is a clear blue.

The orange and yellow buoys we use as a bit of garden decoration, found after storms on the local beaches, in different shapes and sizes, some round, some elliptical, lie littered around as though a spring tide overwhelmed us while we slept. It is just they are obvious to us now, whereas in winter we were both unaware and unconcerned about them.

It is time to be potting up our rooted cuttings from last autumn. We shall grow them on until they are ready to be sold at Achill Country Market either this summer or next.

Our ‘palm tree’ (well it is, sort of) beside the cottage front is now some 12 feet tall from planting some five years ago. Last year it flowered for the first time, a long cream bract with exquisite lily scent - we have four others or more at various stages of maturity – if they all flower this summer we could be driven out! Oh well, it isn’t long here before a stiff breeze blows again.

The river Shraheens, perhaps best called an enthusiastic stream or brook, is our constant companion. It has largely receded to a background whisper we have grown accustomed to, except after heavy rain when it rises rapidly and its rumbling torrent draws us to witness its raw power. Anyone who calls to the cottage is instantly aware of it and comments that they could sit all day just listening. Is it because water is our most ancient home?

There is new growth at the tips of the hebe shrubs and the bright green swords of montbretia are pushing above their old bedraggled orange-brown leaves. Spring is here at River Cottage – we hope!

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