I recently read a lovely little bit of prose about ‘Early Signs of Spring’. There was a lot of stuff about shy tendrils of green and early dew-kissed violets. We do have those here of course, except that they get eaten by the sheep as soon as they emerge, especially the dew-kissed violets. I can’t think why the latter keep coming back year after year, when they only last a nanosecond once flowering. It’s a triumph of optimism over experience in the plant world, but I’m so glad they do it because they are divinely pretty before Foxy spots them and liquidates them.
I’ve got a few Early Signs of Spring of my own and here they are: every one of them is infallible.
1. Tulip gathers all the clean straw in the goose shed into a vast pyramid and lays a huge white egg in the epicentre. This is shortly joined by others, equally precious.
2. Porous realises he’s going to be a Dad again and clears all other lifeforms out of the orchard so he can pamper Tulip in peace. I’m allowed in because I feed them, as long as I don’t linger or look at the Eggs.
3. All the dogs decide that the only place they want to be is the orchard, having ignored it all winter. The days suddenly fill with the slapping sound of Porous’ orange rubber feet and his furious honking as he chases dogs, and the dogs wild cries of joy as they zoom out of the bottom gate and reappear at the top one and repeat the process. Indie is particularly adept at this particular Early Sign of Spring, such a quick learner for a whippet puppy. He appears in the orchard, ambles casually up to Tulip and the Eggs, and when Porous charges up in a froth of fury, goaded on to madness by Tulip’s wild screams of indignation, Indie slams into fifth gear and effortlessly accelerates away. Then he does it again.
4. The bantams, who haven’t laid anything since October, simultaneously come into lay. Suddenly their (capacious and appealing) nest box fills up with small white and pink eggs, and then they make a group decision that Tulip’s nest looks nicer and they all want to lay their eggs there.
5. Tulip discovers bantams sitting on her throne of honour, flips, and drives screaming bantams out of the goose house with rude shoutings and gestures. Many feathers are shed.
6. Scarab the cat (why? why?) chooses a moment when Tulip and Porous are outdoors grazing, goes into the goose house to admire the Eggs and gets trapped when Tulip returns. Tulip freaks, tells Porous that there is a Mountain Lion looking at their babies, and everybody concerned rushes around the orchard yelling and gesticulating.
It all happens every year. It’s all happening now. At least I know that Spring is just around the corner.