After a salmon pink and pale blue sunrise there was cold grey sleet; after a rather feeble but nevertheless joyous and welcome rehearsal for the full-blown dawn chorus of spring, with the mistle thrush in particularly fine voice, there is the crackle of the sleet on the leaf litter and in the trees.
In weather like this I keep my head down and my collar up.
Then, suddenly, it got all Wordsworthian on me. Instead of a crowd, a host of golden daffodils, it was a meeting, a drift of waxy snowdrops. I was so surprised that my photos of them turned out blurred!
They are the quintessential flower of February, though they are not flowering yet in the more exposed places. They seem to be essentially English, and they are celebrated as such by many, in that they are pale and a bit fragile, but really pushy and obstinate. Despite these appearances, however, they are not native to Britain. They came originally from the Caucasus and the Crimea, where the winters are just mild enough to support some insect life to pollinate the flowers and allow them to spread by seed.
Before the advent of the red poppy of Flanders as the flower of remembrance, the snowdrop was the Victorian flower of remembrance, because it grew profusely on the battlefields of the Crimea, just as the poppy was abundant on the killing fields of the Great War.
The soldiers brought them home from the Crimea and they became a popular garden flower, from which they escaped; and, because they can also reproduce vegetatively by bulb division, they have become naturalised.
We would not have it otherwise, and, although some experts describe it as the last flower of thw winter rather than the first flower of spring, it is always greeted by me as the first real sign of warmer days.
I love them.