On Thursday I drove north in sunshine. The hedgerows are fuzzed with the first tender, tentative leaves. Catkins sway in the breeze and even the untended verges beside the road wear a garland of flowers.
You could be forgiven for thinking that it was spring. Officially the vernal equinox was still to occur and, in our usual, unplanned manner, my writing partner and I would greet the changing season together.
England is green. She is always green, but in springtime there is a vibrancy and a possibility in her myriad shades. Creatures both wild and domesticated seem to revel in her freshness and beauty just as much as we do.
In every field there is new life… furred, feathered and rooted in earth. The lambs are a delight to watch, though the ewes warn away any who come too close to their domain. Some are already rounded and playful, others newborn and still unsteady on their feet, discovering for the first time the scent of grass.
Every bush and tree is alive. Buds point their spears at the sky as if to ward off winter weather, birds dive through the branches and the morning is filled with their song.
Squirrels risk life and limb where country lanes lead through the woodlands. Hawks sail the warmer skies and nests that have lain silent now see prospective tenants inspecting their comforts.
Celandines and daisies star the banks and anemones shelter beneath the trees. Early cherries and thorns are in bloom, pink and white against the black bark. Every village green is gilded.
I could have taken the motorway and saved myself a couple of hours driving… but where would be the joy of that? It is spring in England…