Today is St Bridget's Day...and the old first day of Spring ...old, as in pagan or pre-Christian...it's also called Imbolc which interpreted literally means 'the coming into milk of the ewes'...so we can expect to see new born lambs in the fields.
I've written about St Bridget before so'll not do so again...she is one of Irelands favourite Saints and there is a wealth of information about her if you choose to Google.
There is already a stretch in the day...the evenings are slowly but surely growing lighter...it was after five o'clock tonight before the birds left the feeders and went to roost and before we know it we'll be having supper in daylight and the neighbours will emerge from virtual hibernation to stand about in the street exchanging news and gossip...
I so love spring evenings when the air is soft and a warm wind blows...when the hedge bottoms are crammed to bursting with clumps of Primroses and Sweet Violets...the bog smothered in a carpet of the stunning bright yellow Marsh Marigolds and the Starlings who nest in the wall of our little potting shed shout obscenities whenever we get too close...
There is a tiny wild Strawberry plant which emerges year after year under one of the Horse Chestnut trees in our little field...never yet have I seen the fruit...probably eaten by Field Mice, and who can blame them for seeking out a treat after a long winter.
The days I love the best are when the Horse Chestnut flowers and the Hazel has long ribbons of Catkins scattering pollen...when the Willow puts forth it's fat Grey Pussy's to be cut and brought indoors...put into the old earthenware jug and stood on the dresser. By then the Daffodils are out near the river bank and I add some of them to make a cheerful display for a week or so.
And I love the smell of newly turned earth...sweet and pungent and somehow full of a certain promise for the flowers and vegetables to come.
We have bright Scarlet Tulips as well growing near the little river but I dislike cutting those...it seems a shame to bring them indoors when they grow so straight and strong outdoors and don't last at all in a jug.
My cats adore the Spring...they are old now...the two brothers who spent their babyhood in a squalid caravan with a sad woman who was an animal collector...now they are fat and rather staid and can't be bothered much about nests of young rats or sitting for hours patiently waiting for an unwary Field Mouse to appear from a clump of grass...but when the Spring comes they are energised into racing ahead of me when I walk up the fields...tails up high, they take flying leaps up tree trunks and sit there watching small birds until I call them down and off they go again...they'll lie in wait thinking I can't see them and pounce on my feet before leaping over each other and falling into a tangle of legs and bodies...
The dogs sit and snooze in the sunshine...Eilis leans against the cottage walls warmed by the early sun and Bobby lies flat out on the stone slabs in front of the back door panting furiously as though in a heatwave. Millie loves the better weather because it means we take her to the park in Roscommon town where she can investigate the Ducks and sniff small children in pushchairs...we take her to the Lough and she hunts for fishermen's left-over sandwiches and searches for smooth stones for us to throw for her to retrieve...
It'll be a little while yet...before 'the sun shines down on the Chestnut tops' but it is coming...I can once again go prowling around the ancient burial places of the long dead Irish kings...find the secretive Holy Wells and search for the Ogham stones inscribed in a language no one quite understands...pick bunches of sweet scented Primroses and press the tiny Sweet Violets between sheets of blotting paper to use while making bookmarks and other small treasures...
Blessed be to you all...