After weeks of grey skies, or so it seems, we have finally had a few bright days, when the sun has warmed the cold earth, and encouraged some early flowers to open at last. I was beginning to wonder where the snowdrops were, when a couple of days ago I realised that they were hidden under drifts of autumns leaves. Now I have brushed some of the old leaves away from the borders, clumps of snowdrops have opened to the sun, along with a sprinkling of yellow crocuses and a pink blushed hellebore. And this afternoon I was surprised and heartened to see a solitary miniature iris, its vibrant blue petals flung wide like arms to greet the sun.
Spring is on its way.
I walked round Ifield Millpond yesterday. It was a beautiful, cold, crisp, winter morning. The sky was clear and blue, and the sun hung low, so that blinding sunlight bounced off the frozen surface of the millpond, making photography difficult. The grass and undergrowth were rimed with frost, and ice scrunched underfoot. A heron who habitually sits at the waters’ edge, was perched on the branch of a tree. The water birds, usually seen swimming happily, were today skidding and skating precariously on the ice. Three Canada geese one behind the other slowly and carefully plodded towards a patch of open water near the bridge. The first two held their footing reasonable well, but the last one slipped drunkenly on every step – two steps forward and one slip-step backwards. Seagulls coming to land, ran a few slippery steps, wings flapping wildly to keep their balance before coming to a standstill. A solitary duck padded across the ice, webbed feet flapping, but the rest of the ducks seemed to be crowded into a narrow stretch of water between the bank and the boardwalk.
The funniest of all had to be the coots. They looked rather like misshapen, feathered rugby-balls, with ungainly legs and long flat toes that are usually hidden under the water. No doubt the toes with flabby flaps of skin that act rather like webbed feet are ideal for paddling through water, but they are not really designed for walking on ice! The faster the coots tried to go, the more they slipped and slithered. But however much difficulty the birds had staying upright on the ice, I didn’t see any actually fall over; and thankfully neither did I!
I awoke this morning feeling sorry for myself – not a good way to wake up! I’d slept badly, and tatters of disjointed dream images still clouded the back of my mind. I opened the curtains, the sky was as overcast and grey as I felt. I went downstairs, let the dog out and made myself a cup of tea. Then I slipped back into the warmth of my bed to do my daily Bible reading – today it was Psalm 62, maybe this would cheer me up. It starts, ‘My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall never be shaken.’ “Well Lord,” I grumbled, still feeling sorry for myself. “I don’t feel very rested!” I sipped my tea, and stared out of the window; and the colours of next doors oak tree took my breath away. Oak trees are amongst the last to lose their leaves, and now the colours were finally changing and the leaves fluttering to the ground. The colours are simply glorious. With a quick glance from a distance, you might consider the leaves to be merely brown, but when you look more closely, the various intermingled shades of green, yellow and brown are amazing. My day has been lifted, not only by Psalm 62, but also by the unveiling of God’s beautiful creation.
The wisteria in my garden is in full flower. It climbs across the pergola, with long, pale-lilac racemes reaching down to gently touch my face with delicate, purse-like flowers. As the air around them moves, like dancers the racemes drift together in slow-motion, first one way and then another.
My wisteria is beautiful during the day, but at night, when I stand and behold the muted colours and drink in the faint perfume that hangs in the air, it is truly glorious.
Wisteria at night
I was sitting in bed a few days ago with my morning cup of tea, and I heard a familiar tap-tap-tapping from outside. It was the woodpecker back again, but I was aware that through my closed window, what should have been a bright, sharp sound was dull and muted. I love listening to the sounds of nature, especially the birds, so although it was a cool morning with a slight frost, I opened my window wide in order to hear more clearly. I snuggled back under my duvet and while listening to the lovely rhythmic drumming, I got to thinking as I frequently do. And I thought how we often hear God in a muffled, indistinct sort of way, in-between all the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. We are aware He is there, but we can’t hear clearly what He is saying. It’s at times like these that we need to fling open our metaphorical windows, and let the fresh sounds of His voice stream into our stuffy rooms, and take real notice of what He is saying to us.
Today has been quite grey and sombre, and I feel as though I have achieved very little. On occasions I think I just need something colourful to boost my spirits, and today is one of those days. So here are some rhododendron and azalea pictures taken at Wakehurst Gardens last year, to brighten the day. It reminds me that it won’t be long before this years rhododendron and azaleas will be ready to be photographed!
What a beautiful morning! Clear blue sky; birds singing; leaf buds thickening on the trees. Makes me feel glad to be alive.
Thank you God.