Waiting

Really, there is never stasis. One season rolls imperceptibly into another. Every day sees an added joy or a beauty lost. Only this year, spring has been put on indefinite hold – you might say: has been put into cold storage. We are now in mid March, and the snowdrops are in full flower. The crocuses are barely out. There is hardly a sign of the daffs.

Usually, the spring rolls in almost a day at a time. One sees nearly imperceptible changes. One day, looking towards woodland, one sees that the different colours of bark are vivid now. Why this should happen I’ve never been sure, but it does. One day, quite suddenly, and before it greens up, woodland changes colour. Looking in one seed greys and reds and blacks and almost whites, where before there was a wood coloured average. This has not yet happened in up country Ayrshire. Still less has there been the sudden flush of green in the worn yellow velvet of the fields. Nor have the hedgerows kindled as a little green flame licks along the branches.

And in the air there is a cold bite, not just the chill of the March winds, always bitter, but a still, dry, waiting cold. The lowland sheep are lambing, and there is nothing in the fields for them. The up land sheep are waiting on hill sides where only old rushes stand. It feels as if we are all holding out breaths for something kindly and promising, which only the growing light gives. Not the full warmth of spring but boisterous winds with a hint of sea in them. Warm winds which blow through you and make you cold, but not marrow-chilled, as long as you play with them by keeping moving.

But yesterday there was a glimmer of hope for all the battered countryside. Yesterday a curlew cried. Yes, moving, still, to more comfortable pastures, but still, a curlew, bubbling in the night.

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