It’s Old Twelfth Night. Sunlight breaks through the chinks in the copse, and dances on the shiny ivy leaves, like the sparkle of twinkling fairy lights.
The ash trees cast long shadows across the lawn that shift as the light moves. The days are already beginning to lengthen and the wheel of the year begins to turn.
There are signs of new life. Clutches of snowdrop spears are breaking through the clay and the moss, and each Helleborus orientalis plant has plump, dusky flower heads at its base. Tiny white globes are appearing on the twiggy stems of the cherry plum trees; the very first sign of blossom to come.
But the pace is slow. It lacks the true quickening that comes with spring. The winter garden is contemplative. It fixes our attention with little things that would go unnoticed in the full froth of the summer months. Each new shoot, each tiny change. These become daily meditations.
Elsewhere there are survivors of the year just passed; those flowers that span the old and the new. The blooms on the winter flowering clematis, which dangle down, speckled and spangled; the white-petalled Helleborus niger; the bright yellow stars of the winter jasmine. Reminders that even new starts are rooted in the past.
Thoughts are brought back to the present by the caw of a rook swaying in the tree tops. The buzzard soars overhead, while below, the tiny hedgerow birds flit. The cotoneaster has been stripped of its bright red berries by the beaks of hungry blackbirds. Red berries would seem too Christmassy now any way.
As I sit typing a tiny wren, the king of all the birds, alights on the pot by the patio doors, and dips in and out searching for morsels, then in a flash is gone.