Just two degrees of difference.
The air softens and dulls, grass blurs.
The privet heights are quick with sparrow-bustle,
blackbird hop, wren flit, a new colony
born in craic and kerfuffle.
A great tit trapezes birch-stems
nibbling the catkin sheaths,
the see-saw strop of teacher, teacher,
sharpens the morning, adding fizz
to spring’s still coolness.
Ebb-tide is swimming with ducks,
upended, spinning, suddenly noisy.
Paired swans, humped leavings of snow,
melt into the drained river.
The slick banks slump into silty furrows.
Damp is gathering with the first drift of rain.
Earth relaxes ice-bound muscles,
lets out the sharp sour stink of thaw –
mud and leaf-mould, and frost-burned grass
collapsing into wetness, rot, fertility.
This is from Wherever We Live Now, when the ice had been thick on the banks of the Forth, and the sudden change was like the curtains swishing back at the theatre. Here, in the place of the fire, it is not so dramatic. There was a wee sprinkle of snow and a bit of frost, and there was a good six degrees of difference, but everywhere looked quiet, and gray and a little bit cooler than you might expect, and it still does. But the birds have had their cue. The robins have been busy all winter, but the great tits have joined in with their ‘teacher, teacher’ and on the path into town the blackbirds are marking their territories, and all the rooks crows, jackdaws and magpies are sorting themselves out, and clucking over the state of last year’s nests. These birds are shamelessly at it already, having only packed it in reluctantly in November.
What with bad knees and poetry and trying to get the house sorted out, I did not do as much in the garden as I had imagined, but now I’m glad, because there are several places where bulbs are coming up, and goodness knows what damage I might have done if I’d breezed in, clearly and improving and hacking things to bits. But we finally brought home all the plants which had been holidaying at my son’s house.
There will have to be considerable reconfiguring of the current beds to accommodate all of them, but it can be done bit by bit. And there are some new and exciting seeds that I saved for when we settled. Looks like my knee healed just in time.
On the poetry front, I’ve been involved in judging the William Bonar competition, doing final proofs for a collection by Ruby McCann, and selecting poems by Red Squirrel Press poets for Herbology News. And I even wrote a poem. There is more of a thaw going on than I realised!