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February 2017 - Signs of spring compete with more wintry weather.

February's earlier dawns and later dusks show us that the year has really turned towards spring. Daily walks are even more pleasurable now that flowers are budding and birds are increasingly active.

There are thousands of snowdrops in the woods and in our garden - and Lesser Celandines are brightening the south-facing roadside banks.

Mild weather and higher than average temperatures allowed me to make progress in the garden. Strimming last year’s long grass where wild flowers have been left to set seed is a long and tiring job. It means bending low under bushes and clumps of heather; negotiating steep banks and getting in between outcropping rocks. It is a case of a seemingly endless repetition of strimming and raking, but it's good exercise and lovely to be out of doors.

The main part of the garden is now looking good with hundreds of bluebell spikes breaking the surface and new young heather appearing where I had removed the old overgrown plants. But the slopes down to the sea, although strimmed once, still need raking, a prickly task because it is here that we allow brambles to flourish for food, nesting sites and shelter for birds -

and as Kipling stated in his poem The Glory of the Garden,

there’s always a ‘needful job that’s crying to be done’.

Yet again, I found little time for writing but was pleased to have my Valentine’s Day poem on Angela Topping’s Hygge blog.

Although our Wedding Anniversaries tend to be forgotten, Richard and I have always celebrated Valentine’s Day and we have a collection of cards, many of them home-made, that stretch over forty years.

https://angelatopping.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/call-for-submissions-hygge-poems-for-january-and-february-2017/

To quote from Angela's blog -

Hygge, the Danish term for cosiness, intimacy and taking pleasure from simple things. It’s about candlelight and cosy throws, knitting, sharing comfort food with good friends, reading, country walks, and enjoying everything in the present moment. It’s a hug for the soul.’

You Help Me Fly

For Richard

'He is my rock.’

she said,

as if with pride.

You, my love,

are not my rock.

For rocks immovable

inflexible

smack too much

of millstones

round my neck.

Nor are you my anchor,

holding so tight

I cannot

ride with the tide

of my desire.

You are the string

on which,

kite-like I fly

and soar to heights

I could not reach alone.

And if I fall,

I know

that you’ll be there,

to catch

and hold me close.

Sadly this lovely venture has come to a close and I can’t help thinking that it would be wonderful if this collection of Hygge poems could be gathered together in a printed version.

The 21st February brought warnings of severe weather as Storm Doris headed our way. Overnight on the 22nd it brought torrential rain to Islay although we fared better than most of the UK. Even so, the burn that flows into Kilnaughton Bay burst its banks and yet more of the track to the fording place was washed away. Water drained from the hill, gushed down through the wood and turned the path into a miniature rushing river.

The dune crumbled, bed rock on the beach was exposed and the remaining sand was covered with pebbles from the burn. As if to emphasise the vagaries of Hebridean weather the following daybreak brought a calm, sunlit sea and my dawn walk was enhanced by the liquid notes of song thrushes.

Becoming increasingly rare in many places, these birds are my namesake, although many people, especially those south of the border, don’t know that the traditional name for a song thrush in Scotland is a Mavis.

Robert Burns, in his moving poem to Bonnie Mary of Argyll wrote

I have heard the mavis singing,
His love song to the morn,
I have seen the dew drop clinging
To the rose just newly born.

The Coltsfoot flowers which had been in bloom for a week or two were left bedraggled by the storm, Some of their petals had turned a pale orange which I had never seen before.

On the last day of the month it was good to get an email from The Language Hub in Glasgow to say that they have sold out of The Hagstone Chronicles and that they want more copies. So, within an hour they were parcelled up and on their way. If you’re in Glasgow and want Cry at Midnight, Clickfinger or The Snake Wand, The Language Hub is the place to go.

Here is the address.