It's early and we are out collecting eggs from next door's chickens, this isn't a clandestine operation, we don't have 'egg swag' painted on a bag and we ditched dressing up as foxes in our thirties. We are simply hen sitting - again, this image makes you wonder what the hell we are doing with the chickens but don't be scared, no bird was harmed in the writing of this blog - we are simply taking care of them on a day to day footing. Reading that back makes us sound like fowl mafia, we take care of chickens, your chicken sleeps with the millet, we gave your hen a concrete overcoat etc. We are a little chicken obsessed at the moment. Carol believes they get excited when they see her. Little D wants to talk to them like Mel Gibson in Braveheart: 'You can take their eggs but you can never take their freedom!' but you cannot deny that the season is turning. The eggs are getting bigger and the land is waking up.
Little D points eagerly at the hedges, we don't know if this is because the hawthorn is budding or he is signalling to the chickens a possible escape route, he was recently very enamored of another Mel Gibson movie, Chicken Run. Maybe he thinks Babs is going to come out knitting but he's named all three of next door's chickens and laughs when they jump, normally after he's screamed with laughter and fallen in the mud. Spring isn't in the air yet, but it's in the soil and in our child's glee, the weeds are gathering and buds are breaking to the sounds of his voice. These early signs are great, it means we can sow some seeds undercover - in the afternoon, Little D and Andrew will sow dahlia seed and chillies in a heated propagator. This early sign of life means we can start to weed and feed the soil, manure, compost all on the to do list.
There are pockets of snowdrops but no sign of daffodils, though next door's rhubarb is rocketing away and our's still slumbers. We sometimes miss these moments in spring, the sheer joy of the small things in our landscape, the slow wake from slumber to yawn to stretch and jump out of bed. We see, we wait for the jump out of bed but even when a giant moves in a hillside, or the dragon uncurls himself in the bedrock, there are warning signs, moments that are small and simple. Winter can still bite back, and even the act of weeding is married with the act of mulching. A good mulch is worth twenty dug plots, it nurtures the soil, cossets it and brings in life.
Spring comes, silently at first, slow as the melt of ice in winter, it creeps over the soil and into our hearts. We simply have to open them to the first signs of warmth and hope.