"I dreamed that, as I wandered by the way,
Bare winter suddenly was changed to spring
and gentle odours led my steps astray"........Percy Bysshe Shelley
It's the 21st of December today, the Shortest Day, the one winter's day guaranteed to bring a smile to my lips. With, first every second, then minutes, then hours, we now start the process of longer days, inching nearer towards spring - to warmth, to flowers, to light evenings.
Just lately it seems as though everything is always wet or damp, it seems to rain part of every day. This morning, after overnight rain again, we awoke to a strengthening, gusty and warmish, SW wind. Being outside was liking around in a cool steam room, everything seemed to be dripping.
On the reserve, after two bone dry winters, this winter is most definitely not going to follow that trend. The grazing meadows are now showing numerous splashes of shallow water and the rills that were dug on the meadows are now full of water. The tracks and gateways are very muddy thanks to the cattle that were supposed of been taken off by now but still haven't been. The ditches are still only half full but overall, the reserve is well on it's way to looking like it should do in the winter and to be honest, in a brief sunny spell, it looks quite superb.
Between my front drive and that of a neighbour's, is a tall and fairly wide hawthorn hedge that I planted when I first moved here thirty odd years ago. It is populated for much of the year by up to fifty House Sparrows. In the spring and summer some nest in it and for the rest of the year they shelter in it in order to pop out on to the two bird tables alongside. Sitting in the conservatory the other afternoon watching the birds on the bird table, I suddenly became aware of two rats making their way up through the branches and then jumping across on to a bird table and eating the food. My Jack Russell was going mental with rage through the window but I couldn't let her out to catch them in case they ran out into the road alongside. So that night I put out my baited rat trap, which catches them alive for me to deal with later. Before I went to bed I noticed something was in the trap and on going out there, it was a hedgehog, which should of been hibernating by now and is likely to die if it does hibernate now because it clearly won't have a good enough fat store. I tipped it out, gave it some dog food and off it trotted. The next night I caught it again and so the trap idea was abandoned and I resorted to some securely placed rat poison that hedgehogs and other animals couldn't get to, some people might like rats but I don't.