Spring has arrived on Dartmoor

By “The Photographer’s Assistant”

Spring is here. Spring is here. Spring is here. Can’t believe it. Almost overnight here are days of sheer delight.

Almost all mornings now, you can wake up to bird song. Almost before light.  You can go back to sleep with them singing a lullaby. Any small worry takes flight as the larger world of nature takes hold. Up, out of bed, throw open the window.The window that was once shut against the savage Moorland wind. You never saw such business. The aerial display is frantic. It’s a wonder that there isn’t a mid air collision. Busy! Busy! Get up! Get dressed. You might miss something. Get a cup of tea. What about a cooked breakfast? You’ve been too weather depressed to have one of those forever!

Spring is here, and there is a family to be fed

Spring is here, and there is a family to be fed

Down the twisty stairs, it all feels just a bit too warm. Knock the heating off. The heating normally just about makes the air bearable. You need to open that blind that keeps the sun out. Don’t bother any more. Let those brilliant rays in.
There is a deep sigh, as the bacon sizzles invitingly on the range and the photographer emerges  from his winter cocoon without his shoes, his feet enjoying the cold of the stone floor. He has made the effort, and for someone who is given to the odd grump in early winter mornings, is almost civilised, as he sips his tea.

Today is a special day for the dog. He does not know it yet,so he remains in a winter slumber, which befits his age, although, only yesterday, this elderly animal was seen giving chase to a neighbours cat, which was prowling near his spring bird supply.The birds in the garden and their offspring will do well this year and we will be pleased that he can no longer snaffle the odd bird’s nest. He is just too old. He is not, however, past lying in the sun for as many hours as it is out. He needs sun glasses to make him look like the slumbering gangster that he is.

Having blinked like moles in the sun light, the car has arrived and the dog, under the illusion that this is a pleasure trip, is lifted in. He prowls about the car boot and settles down with a bump. We cross the big dividing road that runs along the edge of the Moor. The countryside is drying out and farmers are daring to take the odd piece of machinery onto once mud covered fields. Our friend is thinking of daring to move his bull to pastures new. The old car rattles along, airing out, the boot no longer harbouring traces of water. The car loves it. Spring is simply all around.

We arrive at our destination. The dog is keen. Even with impaired vision he can see that a beautiful young woman is waiting just for him. Those familiar with the dog will recall his love of young women, and how he can charm them within an inch of his whisker. He is led off without a backward glance at his elderly mistress, who has assured him that she will be back. He’s not bothered.
On the way home, at this lower level off the Moor, there is a wonderful surprise. There are lambs, early lambs Just running about a field. So early for here!

Home and we sit in the sun over our coffee. This is the best spring display in the garden yet. On the Moor it can be difficult to get any sort of early display, but not this year. There are mini daffodils, crocus and primulas all together with the snowdrops. What a reward for all that planting. In the distance we can see the high hills of the Moor, no longer covered in snow or ice or just plain glowering down, but gentle and green, inviting you to put on those ancient walking boots.

Azalea after spring frost

Azalea after spring frost

We have to collect the dog. The dog is now keen to return home, but he looks very smart and dapper, having had his spring trim. He is very proud for days afterwards, expecting visitors to note what he considers to be his great beauty!

In the afternoon, the Photographer, now Head Gardener, is surveying the scene. The Assistant is excitedly opening a large plastic box. It is full of packets of seed. Lacking the supervision of the Head Gardener, and not caring, she lets the seed fall from the box. In her childish way, the colours of all those beautiful  packets are what really mean spring to her. They mean a world of hard work, but they also mean pleasure, pleasure for the whole summer. Now, she will look at the hills and enjoy their beauty, all the more because they will allow her to plant and grow seeds where they once trapped her indoors.

Here, spring will mean that the glowering Moor will celebrate the year by letting her and all the tiny creatures who live beneath it, unpack their seeds, as The Moor, now in benevolent mood will for the months to come look down on them growing enough, if they are prudent, to last the blasted winter.

From now on, the tiny hamlet will be full of poly cloches, ancient tools, open sheds and outdoor cups of tea and cake as the planting begins.

Promise of bounty to come

Promise of bounty to come

And today, 7th March, the Photographer’s Assistant and the Head Gardener have their first cup of tea in the garden this season

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