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(2010-05-11 14:28:11)


Spring is in the air and a spring is in the step 》(春意盎然春风在履)


                                                                                                                                   by      Simon Barnes



Spring arrived suddenly, making me jump. One day we’re in the bleak midwinter, next day the overcoat’s off and we’re all experiencing the bearable lightness of being. It affects everybody and everything. At a stroke tempers are better, moods are easier, life is more amusing, the future less threatening. No one is immune.

The suddenness makes it all especially noticeable, but the natural world is part of us and it touches us in a million ways, whether we are aware of it or not. It’s not something that we have the option of setting aside.

This melodramatic shift in the seasons has forced the wild world to our attention. At a stroke the little woods and copses became a cacophony: a musical celebration of the instantaneous horniness of the turning year. On blazing Monday I heard the year’s first chiffchaff. This is the first migrant——the vanguard of the great flock of intrepid winter-dodgers that arrive and sing in the spring.

In the garden, life returned with a threatening buzz: bees, both bumble and honey, are already at their work, waking up and getting stuck into the flowers as if they hadn’t a minute to lose. Ladybirds soaked up sun as they busied about in their self-important way. And a fly——not the sexiest creatures, I know, but their dizzy aerial brilliance should inspire far more admiration than it does.

Primroses, glowing yellow from the walls of sheltered ditches, prima rosa, the first and most courageous of the flowers. Buds, looking urgent, those on the conker trees already beginning to burst. I shouldn’t wonder if the world doesn’t turn green.

Goldcrest, with the highest song of all in the garden, over the fields skylarks singing hallelujahs without taking a single breath. And even those who are slower than I am to call out the names or write down the signs cannot escape that the new season is here. There is a spring in everybody’s step.

Spring is something that comes to you. It is also something that you can meet halfway. So I set off on my favourite walk along Suffolk coast, taking in an estuary, woodland, sandling heath, reedbeds, lagoons and marshes, with a pint at the far end of it all.

I saw two avocets swishing their turny-up beaks in synchronised dance, a pair, an item, and one clearly itching to get on with the task of making more avocets. In the reeds the urgent pinging of the pingers. These are bearded tits, so named because they are neither bearded nor tits. They make a sound not unlike that of an ancient cash register totting up shillings and pence, and they live mysterious lives below the level of the seedheads.

Reed buntings exchanged bursts of their perfunctory bit of song, and then, feeling the urgency of the season and the warmth of the sun, flaunted themselves, handsome little birds in black hats. On the shingle, ringed plovers, looking too sweet to live in the real world, surveyed their bleak domain two by two, a forbidding place where, astonishingly, they will nest.

And there, another sign of spring—— people from Suffolk Wildlife Trust driving posts into the ground, making a fence a mile long, so that when the terns come, they will be able to nest without being trampled on by humans and woofed at by dogs. I stopped to banter. Spring. Good thing.














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