The past few months have been consumed with a lot of travel. These work demands on my time have taken me away from Crockern and its rhythms. Meanwhile, Roger, Sam and Millie have held the fort.
Being away does give me a chance to recover from some of our projects. Pot holes, roof repairs, fencing, ceilings, gardening, etc. all leave me feeling some aches and pains. A few days away and my sore muscles recover; and I return to see anew the beauty of Crockern. What may take a week or two to unfold seems to happen overnight. After a recent two-week trip to the States, I returned to find spring in full force at our little homestead.
Driving back from the train station, the woodlands, lanes, verges and hedgerows are bursting with wildflowers. British flora may be modest by international standards, but it is full of pleasure. Wild garlic, gorse, buttercups, bramble, nettle, red campion, cow parsley, poppy, primrose, daffodils, cornflowers and soon to come, speedwell, teasel and foxgloves.
As we cross the cattle grate and climb up onto the moors, a chequered scene appears with green fields, scrubby land, river valleys and patches of woodland. Newly born lambs, cows and horses chase after their mothers. Across the hillside, gorse flashes its golden yellow flowers and fills the air with a heady scent of coconut. These low shrubs are still prickly and I worry about my eyes when I get too close, but they make such a spectacular accent to the landscape.
Spring at Crockern comes later than other parts of the country, even those parts just 5 miles away. Still, and despite the colder temperatures, things are in bloom. Bleeding hearts, hostas, geraniums and comfrey are all erupting in growth and flowers. The bees are starting to buzz about reminding us all this planting is worth it. So too, the rabbits are making their tunnels in the flower beds making me shake my fist like Elmer Fudd. Blasted little buggers!
The other day, Roger flew out the front door only to return with dirt all over his hands. “I saw a rabbit in the spinach bed; I’ve had to block its tunnel.” Despite last year’s efforts to protect the vegetable beds, this one needs increased attention. These rabbits never rest, nor do they seem to stop having sex. Once again, we are spotting several generations dining on grass in the yard. Of course, our chickens seem more than happy to share space with them under the rose bush. If only my camera were to hand to document three chickens having a dust bath while two rabbits are curled up napping just inches away. I suppose if you’re a rabbit, you can let your guard down when clucky chickens are busy preening nearby.
And the birds are back in town! While walking Sam and Millie, I hear the call of our cuckoo. Yes ours. Each spring I anxiously await the return of the cuckoo, worried that its migratory flight may have met with disaster. But when I hear its melodic mating song across our valley, I feel a peace descend. So too, the swallows are making their return. We have only a few so far, but the rest of the crew should soon be here busily making their nests and raising their young.
Of the many bulbs I planted two years ago, the daffodils and snowdrops made their showing earlier. I noticed, a few of the bluebells were bravely poking through the ground. With luck, in a few more years, they will spread and form a visual treat under the trees. To celebrate spring, Roger and I joined our friends on a circular walk taking in acres of woodland carpeted in native Bluebells. Oh, how I hope ours will one day look like this! British bluebells are somewhat endangered from cross-fertilization by the hardy Spanish bluebells which were introduced in many gardens. But I don’t care. As I pause to inhale the unique sent of spring growth on the breeze, I wonder if the bluebell issue will come up in Brexit negotiations?