A walk through spring

April and the first butterfly

For the last few weeks a faint mist of green has been swirling through the branches of the wood.  Today, from a distance, I can see that it is at last beginning to condense on the twigs; colour is taking on definition as leaves.

As I enter the wood I see a wren looking casual. I am suspicous – wrens don’t usually look casual; they look busy and scuttley. I pretend not to watch. I think the wren thinks that I’m not looking and when the wren darts into a crack in our boundary stone wall, I creep over, superior. I’d outsmarted the wren – it had inadvertently given away it’s nesting place. I peep through the gap. A beautiful nest tucked between stones is waiting for eggs. The thing is, this nest is not a wren’s nest.  The sneaky wren has shown me a robin’s nest – it knew I was watching all along.  An excellent tactic to stop a predator finding its own nest.  One nil to the wren.

Not wanting to upset the robin or the wren,  I move off quickly to look at the bluebells, now fully open at the edge of the wood. To get there, I wade through wild garlic, buds swollen and heavy, waiting in the wings for the bluebells to leave the stage. Continuing on I see violets and primroses, and above them, trees starting to unfurl their leaves. Hazel with its delicate thin green leaves, still crumpled along their veins. Hawthorn, darker leaves appearing as a small version of what they will be, but tinged red at the centres. Beech, leaves opening up like fans from tightly concertinaed buds.

Beech leaves unfurl
Beech leaves

There is movement. A great tit. Then a kick of brown with a white flash. A roe deer bounds ahead out of sight. For a few minutes I stand, listening to the deer calling; very close, like single barks of a dog. I move on only as I hear the calls recede into the distance. And then on down, through the wood to the far side where the bluebells are not so advanced. As I walk along the path, I see a flutter. A butterfly. A peacock butterfly. The first I’ve seen in the wood this year. I dump the kettle I’m carrying, soap, dishcloth, key, backpack; a tumbled heap in the path. I stalk the butterfly. I watch as it feeds on the bluebells, having to turn upside down to get it’s tongue up the nodding head of the flower. Then it basks in the sun.

Last weekend left me feeling hollow, aching, exhausted – that’s why I’m here, today, at the woods. I sit, drinking tea, listening to the woodpeckers drum, the tits calling, every so often hearing the deer bark. The wind is making a different noise in the trees now – more of a muffled sigh – and the sun has warmth. For a while, there is peace and space – enough to go forward to another day.

For a photograph album of ‘A walk through spring’, click this link.

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