Saturday, 9 February 2008

Spring in my Steps

There's nothing quite like the satisfied feeling of muscle worn exhaustion which comes at the end of a good days work in the garden on a crisp and sunny pre-spring day. This weekend the weather has been glorious - warm in the sunshine, chilly in the shade, icy early morning puddles, and a dusting of frost on the rooftops. There are buds heralding the coming of spring on every branch and twig, shoots peeping through the mud everywhere, the very first flushes of tender fresh lime green hawthorn leaves and even a sprinkling of confetti-like blossom daintily peppering the gardens and hedgerows. Soon those hedgerows will be thickly ablaze with the fat white and fluffy blackthorn blossoms which precede the more delicate but no less glorious beauty of the barely pink hawthorn flowers. Everywhere we look, the earth beneath our feet is infused with the stirrings of new life - if you stand still for long enough you will feel it's energy humming through you. This and the growing light fills each second with promise and potential and so after the dark days and cold nights of midwinter, it is easy to find inspiration by the shovel-full. This time of year was known to the ancients of Britain, our ancestors of blood and of the land, as Imbolc, a word in their language meaning "ewes milk". It acknowledges the quickening bellies of the ewes, the fact their lambs will soon be born and spring will be well and truly, irriversably here. If we can see nature reflected in our own lives, this is a time of new horizons, inspiration and growth, ideas formed at the winter solstice and taking shape now, yet vulnerable still - this abundance of growth could so easily fail should a harsh frost get in the way.

And so with this amazing weather, work in the allotment has at last commenced with gusto along with a declaration of war on the unnaturally swollen rodent population who have moved in (and bred) following floods last summer and again this winter - we are only a small bunny hop away from the Thames which keeps bursting it's banks just where we are. There were enough mice as it was last year to finish off my entire crop of beetroot - laughing at me as they sated their appetites right under my nose while I weeded the neighboring beds oblivious to their theiving ways .. I would find freshly gnawed roots there and then, glistening wounds bleeding purple juice into the soil! And so taking into account the increased density and variety of rodent habitation, I reckon, along with my fellow allotmenterios, that there will be nothing left for us if action is not taken swiftly! We started by moving the half rotton shed, patching it up with recylced odds and ends, and displacing a small mouse city in the process. We moved some planks (more houses destroyed), dug over some beds (still more) and disposed of a whole load of rubbish, including the equivalent of a hollywood mansion (an old trainer which had been converted into a very des res indeed). We could well have had the rodent population of Tokyo within our 10 rods of space, but hopefully many of them will have moved on to newer, greener pastures, or even back to the river bank for now. I hate to put poison down but our entire village is suffering from a rat epidemic and so I think I will have no choice in the end, unless we find a Pied Piper! We'll see how it goes. In the meantime, I am thinking of some nice ways to brighten up the shed with paint, and i want to build a firepit too.

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