The Seasons Outside My Back Door: Week 5 February 2016
I've been reading through January and February of Edith Holden's The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. For those of you unfamiliar with this book, and quite honestly I was woefully ignorant of its existence until a friend of mine recommended it, its a facsimile reproduction of a naturalist's diary from the year 1906 in Warwickshire, England.
One hundred and ten years after she put pen to paper I'm reading Edith's words and comparing the January and February of winter 1906 that she recorded to the one we are having now. December 1905 and January 1906 were mild. Very mild. She writes on 23rd January, 'it has brought out the hazel catkins, wonderfully early'. Then a few days later, on the 29th, she reports of picking daisies in a field, seeing yew in blossom and the shooting up of young nettles.
I haven't seen any yew in blossom because we haven't got any yew trees, but I've spied daisies in the long grass of our lawn (it won't stop growing!), hazel catkins, the lime green of the young nettles and the downy white catkins of the willows that are starting to break out. Edith observes those, too, on the 12th February.
On the 3rd February she mentions bird's eggs that had been found. I love that it was written in the Chronicle that a Blackbird's nest with two eggs in had been discovered at Dover, and a robin's nest with five eggs had been discovered at Elmstead. And in the present birds have been witnessed pairing off and the sound of bird song is now evident all day on mild and bright days just like Edith observed on the 27th January.
I have to warn you that, for Edith in 1906, February was their most wintery month after their mild December and January. So for those of you despairing that we haven't had enough cold weather yet (that would be me, there are so many bugs going around at my daughter's age) and for those of you longing for spring, this could give you hope or despair respectively.
I'm finding new patches of snowdrops every time I go outside. I planted some myself last year, which are starting to come up as single flowers. There are established bunches however, underneath the hazel tree and by the pond. In next door's garden there is a tree covered in delicate white blossom. I think it's a pear tree, though I'm not certain. It is slightly sheltered from the blustery winds of the last few days, but, even so, the petals are flying and swirling around into hen orchard like snow.
In other news we lost a chicken this week. Yesterday in fact. She had become lame and there was nothing we could do for her. It's sad as Viola was one of my eight original chickens. She was a real nosy parker and if you were cleaning out the coop she'd be the first one in to see what had been done. She also liked to sing at you. Viola, you will be missed.
The rest of the chickens, fifteen now, have been squabbling. Viola was one of the top ones in the pecking order so there is now jostling for position amongst the ranks.
Catch up with the previous Seasons Outside My Back Door Project: