In the immortal words of Flanders and Swann:
‘January brings the snow/makes your feet and fingers glow -
February’s ice and sleet/freeze the toes right off your feet.’
I was having a spirited discussion last night about which is worse – January or February. I was batting strongly for January. Christmas is a distant sparkly memory, Spring is a lifetime away. You live most of your life in the semi-twilight, and if you work during the day you have to manage the livestock by torchlight. The horses need constant supplies of hay/food/water and so do the sheep, with the added excitement that every time they think you’re not concentrating on them hard enough they go and get caught in the brambles and you have to free them. Freeing a disapproving sheep from nature’s very own razor wire with frozen purple fingers is a long, long way away from sitting on a deckchair in the garden admiring the flower beds and sipping a cool glass of something refreshing. Back in January the hens refuse to lay (and who can blame them?), the geese make any muddy patch even muddier in their own inimitable way and the dogs come back indoors with enormous wet paws and then walk everywhere.
Yes, said my friend, but all of that applies to February plus it’s just a horrible month. And I must say she had a point. And yet, and yet. If I breathe deeply and practice positive thinking, February has some plus points. As I walked down to feed the sheep this morning there was a ribbon of snowdrops by the side of the lane. There were catkins in the hedge. There was no doubt that it wasn’t as dark as it was last week. And when a watery sun shone briefly yesterday, there was a tiny smidgion of warmth in it. In February, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I rest my case.