We are now half-way through April and the year is thundering on. Time’s accelerator is stuck to the floor and soon I will be approaching the speed of light. I will become a gossamer thread, spun like a cobweb across your path.
Meanwhile, the woods are moving on – slowly at first, but now changing gear perceptibly.
All about me are wrens, more this year than I ever remember. Being such tiny things, they suffer terribly in hard winters, but we have now had several mild winters, and the wrens are making it through. Plucky little birds, with a plucky little song that vibrates with energy.
Of course, the flip side of this is the fact that the wood can only support a finite number of birds through next year’s cold and frost. They must suspect this in their tiny wren-brains, so they are all out singing for their share of the wood.
The colour of the wood is still essentially black, or dark brown, but the hawthorn bushes are coming out, in scribbles of lemon green, tender leaves. These young hawthorn leaves are edible and nutritious – indeed, one of the names we used to give the new leaves was ‘bread-and-cheese’ – but I never found them very tasty. If I were starving, though, it would be a good thing to know.
But the most important thing that has happened in the wood is the sudden flowering of the blackthorn. This has to be my favourite flower of the month. The blackthorn – which is neither a tree nor a bush, but something in-between – throws out its masses of tiny white flowers before its leaves, so the flowers look really vivid against the black of the branches.
Each individual flower looks like a white moth or a fishing fly. They are delicate and transient, which all truly beautiful things are, and every year they delight and surprise.