Trish and I ventured into the wetlands, loaded with bird and squirrel food. The meadows are still flooded; some are frozen – beautiful pools of bluish-grey amongst the sodden green. Icy puddles cracked and slopped under Trish’s wellies, a sound so satisfying I vowed once again to buy Wellingtons this week with the view to do some serious icy puddle walking myself – very therapeutic!
The hazels are sprouting catkins and the birdsong is beginning to swell. We presented our bird and squirrel feast upon the shelves and ledges of the hide and returning back along the wooden stilted walkway, we stopped to listen to a little robin. He was less than three feet from us, on branches level with our heads, singing his gorgeous song. When not open-beaked and full-throated, he would stare at us, his head tilted quizzically, the rise and fall of his feathery chest, rapid and anxious. Occasionally he would fluff out the cream, blue and red of it, until round as a barrel, then deflating, would throw back his head once more and sing to the heavens. We watched him for some time, charmed by his bravery and the beauty of his voice.
Amongst the dead reeds, we had a brief sighting of a wren – I always get a little buzz when I see both of these birds on the same walk; a robin and a wren in the space of a few minutes – birds so much associated with the waning and waxing of the year. It is clear that the waxing is quickening and that beneath the stillness is the faint shudder and hum of the earth stirring.
We walked to our grove. It has been ages since my previous visit– even longer since we last had a ceremony here. We placed bird food upon the old oak and sat beneath it, the channels of water in the meadows below clearly visible through the bare branches; the steep slopes beyond the giant holly are leafless and open – the grove less secret and hidden in the winter months.
Walking back along the river, we fed the ducks at the bridge and felt the chill intensifying, the trees deepening their silhouettes as the sky reddened and brightened before sinking into dusk. I had hoped to see the barn owl – yesterday driving back from Shorwell, Laurie and I saw one crisscrossing the lane, it whiteness tinged with sunset. A little further down, the rapid flight of a little owl came to rest, a round feathery ball clinging wide-eyed to a telegraph pole. Tonight, there were no owls and our pace quickened as the air sharpened, and I thought to myself that all the icy puddles that broke beneath Trish’s wellies, would – over night - heal and mend in the bitter cold.