I've been feeling funny lately, and I wasn't sure why. Then, after giving it much thought, I decided on a likely cause. The joys of spring. I first heard of 'the joys of spring' as a child when watching that well-known '80s cartoon, Willo the Wisp. The one with Kenneth Williams as Evil Edna the television, Mavis Cruet the fairy and Arthur the orange caterpillar, who lived together in Doyley Woods. If you didn't watch it yourself, maybe your kids did. Anyway, one of the characters was a small, yellow bird, Twit. In spring, his character changed. He became happy - even romantic - and began to construct a nest in a tree. Nestbuilding isn't really my thing, but I've felt my spirits uplifted in the past few weeks. There's so much to look forward to in the coming months... Already, you could see butterflies on a warm day. Many will have spent winter hidden away in crevices or outbuildings but will come out to feed when it's warm enough. Keep an eye out for familiar favourites like red admirals, peacocks and commas. Though the bad weather that much of the UK suffered doesn't seem long ago, frogs and toads are plopping into ponds up and down the country. Listen out for the croaking and then watch their courtship activities. Their spawn can survive cold snaps, so it's not too early for them. In a matter of weeks, bluebells will be blooming and primroses peeping up from the woodland floor. They'll be greeted by butterflies and bees eager for the nectar they provide. After a long, grey winter, I'm always drawn to flowers and blossom.
In Japan, sakura - cherry blossom - plays a big part in culture and hanami parties are held under the trees to celebrate. Cherry blossom forecasts are even issued! It's a shame we don't do something similar here... why not have a bluebell party to mark the occasion? I'm almost as drawn to new spring leaves as to flowers. Something about the bright lime green you see when the sun shines through them symbolises spring and new growth perfectly for me. Everything is... alive! Then, not long after the bluebells are out and the young leaves sprout, there are more technicolour treats to look forward to: the first damselflies, large reds, emerge from our ponds and rivers and add splashes of bright scarlet to our landscape. They live short, but eventful, lives. From roughly the end of April, dragonflies follow the damselflies' example and crawl out of the water. They creep up a plant stem, climb out of their skins and fly off for a few months of fighting, mating and mosquito-munching. Longer term, there are the pleasures of summer to look forward to... those long, warm days, warm evenings spent in the garden with bats flying overhead... and, Twit aside, I haven't even mentioned birds yet! There are swallows, nightingales, house martins, not forgetting hobbies, warblers... That's why I'm enjoying spring.
Has spring gone 'boing!' for you?