The Seasons Outside My Back Door: Week 1 January 2016
For a few months now I've wanted to start recording the seasons for an entire year as a project. Sort of, a modern version of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady So as part of a free online photography course with Emma Davies I am starting to record the seasons outside my back door on this blog. (If you're interested in joining go to Emma's page now to sign up, but then, obviously, come back.) Every time I step outside my back door, which is a number of times a day as I walk the dog, or check on the chickens and ducks, or even just to grab some fresh air after writing for a while, I can feel the seasons and the subtle changes.
Unfortunately I'm not one of those people who can tell what the weather is going to do just by looking at the sky. However, because I'm outside so much I can sense when there is a change afoot. But it's not just sensing the changes. It's delighting on what is happening in the here and now. Not many people enjoy January in the northern hemisphere. I hear it often as soon as Christmas is over. Roll on spring, they say. And it saddens me a little. Because, if we go by the astronomical seasons, then winter has only just started, just a few days before Christmas. So we have another, roughly, two and a half months of winter.
That's a long time to wish away.
So I want to delight in this time of year, like I want to delight at all times of the year, including the rainy, squelchy, and gloomy times which it has been now for around a month. Unseasonably warm, very wet, with low cloud. It has been so warm that in our hedgerows we have some of last year's leaves still lingering next to new leaves that have prematurely burst forth.
The first year we moved into this house, three years ago, a winter stream that cuts through our land to drain off the surrounding fields, began flowing in late summer, early autumn. It was such a wet summer. But in 2015 it didn't start until Boxing Day. The stream runs next to the chicken and duck enclosure. So we've decided to let the birds roam free whilst we're at home. (I'm also thinking the loud bangs from the farmer's bird scarers will keep the fox away during daylight.)
As soon as I open the gate the ducks head straight for the stream. In particular the bit we've dammed to make a pond. They are absolutely delighted. Utterly, blissfully happy.
So yes, it's January. Yes the weather is gloomy and wet. But to see those ducks rooting around, making such happy, contented noises, as they drill the mud for delicious treats, as they flick water onto their backs and ducking (sorry!) their heads under the water. Well, you can't help but smile. And their feathers are glorious. So soft to touch.
This is Week 1 in January: warm and wet. But I have a feeling Week 2 is going to be very different. There is a coldness being blown in on the wind.