I have responded to the sudden outburst of spring weather like any true Englishman – I use both parts of the word advisedly – by spending as much leisure time outside as possible. Only once have I been reduced to shivering on the bench each time the sun went in; since then, I have done exactly as before, only taken care to ensure I wear a hat.
Pigeons, blackbirds and sparrows have this year been augmented by bluetits around the feeders, and their combined songs by the noises of half-mile distant cuckoos and woodpeckers. The former is a definite novelty, and the occasional dawn chorus my insomnia has gifted me has thrummed along to the insistent, repeated call of the bird, so obviously different from all manner of pigeon rhythm.
From the path behind our house you can follow the tiniest nature ramble in the world. Council despoilment combined with our neighbour’s clumsy pruning has opened a window in the hedge on a crowd of bluebells and what look like abandoned alpine flowers: strawberry-pink nothings in the forget-me-not style.
Through our back gate now, and witness the characteristic wearing of specific portions of the wooden battens. This is a key characteristic of inhabitation by Felis timidus, or the domesticated scaredy-cat. See how it always leaps over at the same point, when it considers itself in danger of attack from dog, cat, pigeon or – on occasion – bee.
Then into the garden, past the garlics and the cheat peas (a birthday gift, planted where the original sweet peas had been demolished by blackbirds) to the bench behind which, if you look up, you can see next door’s unkempt floribunda branches dangling over into our patch. And there, tucked in amongst the leaves and the new growth, wrapped in on its own purpleness like a cherry liqueur chocolate, smaller than a quail’s egg, is the first rosebud of spring.
Now sit, and look from bluebell to rose, and back again; listen to the birds, and let F. timidus trot over, to lie down at your feet.