It has been slightly warmer in towns and cities than out in the country, but I reckon that even though we’re only a few miles from the coast, where winters are supposed to be less severe, we’re at least three weeks behind the season. And, if anything, spring’s getting even later. But at least my rather blasphemous prayer seems to have been heeded and the rains have held back. Some of the lake-like puddles on our lower-lying land are now, at last, starting to recede. Incidentally, an old friend from college days, on reading my horrible attempt to imprecate the Almighty, reminded me what a pleasure the real thing can be. He sent me this extract from the original (1662) Book of Common Prayer:
For fair weather.
O Almighty Lord God, who for the sin of man didst once drowne all the world, except eight persons, and afterward of thy great mercy didst promise never to destroy it so againe: we humbly beseech thee, that although we for our iniquities have worthily deserved a plague of rain and waters, yet upon our true repentance thou wilt send us such weather, as that we may receive the fruits of the earth in due season, and learne both by thy punishment to amend our lives, and for thy Clemency to give thee praise and glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Harsh? but fair!!
I don’t think anyone ever has written more gorgeous English than the men, mostly Archbishop Cranmer of course, who gave us the C of E prayer book. Personally, I’d even take it over The Bible. Shame about some of the content, though. [Stop it Pryor: you’re starting to digress – Ed.]
The lateness of the season must be the main reason why the dawn chorus hasn’t yet begun. We start lambing on March 2nd and when I get up to make the early morning inspection of the sheep, usually around 4.30 AM, my round is usually punctuated by a few cheeps and chirrups from wrens, chaffinches and blue tits. But not this year. I normally get up around 5.30 or 6.00 to work on my current book (I shall have more to say about that ‘ere long) and by that hour the garden should, by rights, be alive with early morning birdsong. But again, not this year. No, mornings have been horribly quiet.
It’s an ill, or rather a chill, wind that blows nobody any good, and the up-side this year has been long-tailed tits. I adore these fabulous little birds. They occur in flocks of about 20-30 and inhabit the willows that fringe our pond. There’s not a lot of food around at this time of year, so they’ve taken to feeding at the improvised bird-tables we’ve erected in the garden, near the house. And they really are hitting the fat balls and fat cakes, big time. They fly fast and frantic, and when six or eight are feeding together, they almost smother the bird-tables, especially when their feathers are puffed-out against the cold. As I said, I adore them.