As we all know, last winter, snow and even frost were conspicuous by their absence. Instead, the weather was characterised by almost incessant rain. It was very much a case of grabbing a dry day when you could, as you could be sure rain would return in the near future.
Consequently, the ground became sodden with rain and many of the paths I have frequented for years deteriorated into muddy tracks and so, driven by the need to take Monty out for his daily exercise, I abandoned some of my old routes along the canal and took to striding out across the moors around Deerplay, Crown Point and Dunnockshaw, where the paths are generally well engineered.
Indeed, so extensive is the expanse of land that there are loads of different route variants that stick to good paths, I rarely became bored with it. Mind you, when the wind blows, up there you really feel it.
Of course, things have changed now, and despite the odd hard shower, the ground has firmed up quite nicely. Indeed, you could even say we needed the odd drop of rain. But, I’m something of a creature of habit and so the other evening I found myself out walking with Monty on the moors after work, looking south towards Rossendale. As I stood I watched a lark rise almost from under my feet, singing excitedly to mark its territory and find a mate, continuing without a break high into the blue yonder.
Monty, unfortunately, in his search for a drink, managed to find an evil-smelling mire in which to wallow, and so, on my return to the truck, I consigned him to the back, and drove down to the canal near Huncoat. Here too, the paths were now dry and Monty got a second outing, this time featuring a swim, not for his benefit, but for mine.
While there, the signs of spring were all around. Lambs playing in the fields, some wild forget-me-nots growing at the base of a hedge, while on the water a mother duck went about her business escorted by a small flotilla of tiny ducklings. In the meadows, recent showers and warm days had produced a flush of grass. What a lovely time of year. Everything is fresh and new, with the hope of even better things to come.
As May approaches, gardeners, too, start to get excited. Gone are the cold hard days of winter and returned at last are the growing months. We have already started getting ready for the beginning of the bedding plant and hanging basket season at a Reedley. The blossom is now on the trees, the lavender and marguerites are now coming into flower while in the pond my fish have started to develop a healthy appetite. Not quite summer, but almost.
Did I mention I spotted a pair of swallows while walking on the canal?
They say “one swallow does not make a summer” but seeing a pair surely means it is on its way. There is still the chance of some late frost, and you have to keep a weather eye open especially if we get clear night-time skies, but things are getting better and better. Good gardening beckons!