The Seasons Outside My Back Door: Week 3 January 2016

seed headMy daughter went out to give the chickens their corn late yesterday afternoon. She tapped on the window to me. ‘I can see the woodpecker,’ she said excitedly. And indeed there it was. The green woodpecker. It has been pecking around on our grass all week. And I’ve heard its laugh many times, including answering laughter. Then we watched as it flew off the grass onto an adjacent ash tree; its wings a delicious vivid green. Such beauty.

Last week the snow was on the ground. Today the temperature is back up to ten degrees. I don’t often moan about the weather but I do wish it would be colder for longer. I like to feel it keenly against my cheeks, have painfully cold hands and to stamp my feet on the floor to get warm. You have to have proper cold during the winter; almost a sufferance. Otherwise, how can you truly appreciate the beauty, colours and change that spring brings?

ash tree in winter

I remember the first winter we had in this house. Oh my word it was cold. It was the winter of 2012/2013. I would go out the north-facing back door and the wind would cut through my triple-layered cardigans. By the time I was down in the chicken run I would be perished. The weather teased us; there was a brief mild spell, when everyone thought spring was here. So I bought some new chickens. And then the winter weather came back with a vengeance. And a few of those chickens didn’t make it.

frosty chickens

I’m not saying I want chicken deaths in order for it to properly feel like winter. But when spring came around in 2013 were we ready for it. How we appreciated it. Every little leaf bud bursting open would be an amazing event. I would examine the trees as I walked the dog around the field. Watching the chickens dust-bathe as they delighted in the sun was a particular joy.

I’ll tell you what is also a joy. The ducks a few days ago, desperate for their pond, running across the frosty grass, down the slope and straight onto ice. The look of astonishment on their faces was hilarious. I know, ducks don’t look astonished, but for that fleeting moment before they got further in where the pond was not frozen, you could see and sense their puzzlement. Priceless.

ducks on pond

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