A cheerful warmth greets me on this mid-April day: a warmth that dares me to walk bare-armed, bare-legged in eagerness to feel those life-giving rays. White skin, silver hair might blind any onlooker so I quicken my pace to retreat to the lonely lanes and long forgotten paths where birdsong is orchestral.
Woodland floors, sluice banks and hedges are quickly greening now, punctuated with swathes of gold – ageing daffodils and bright new dandelions and celandine.
The first of the bluebells are teased out by the strengthening sun and tree branches are filled with ripening buds.
Already, the dance of butterflies begins – peacocks, red admirals, gatekeepers, speckled wood – and hoverflies and bumblebees grow merry on the sweetness of this advancing spring, seeking out sunny glades.
Courting and nesting birds are too busy to notice my passing. There are goldfinch, greenfinch, and chaffinch all in the same stretch of hawthorn hedge. I follow a flock of long-tail tits who rest a wee while on tender branches and then take to the air again as soon as I catch them up.
A buzzard flies across a recently tilled field and seems to hover, kestrel-like, for just three flaps of its mottled wings. There was something magical about that.
There is still coolness in the stern coastal breeze but in the sheltered spots of greenery, the sun crawls upon my pale skin and brings much needed warmth after a long winter. I dared to ‘cast a clout’ and I’m now dreaming of summer.