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Feather's Miscellany: Winter

“Best of all, when once we’ve got Lent safely behind us, no matter what our age, we can look forward to Easter and the Resurrection of new life in the human spirit as well as in the world of nature,’’ writes John Waddington-Feather.

Old age is the wintertime of life, and growing old accords in many ways with the last season of the year. It is then that trees and shrubs like us are stripped of their beauty, and leafless have to withstand the gales and frosts of winter. Daylight shrinks to a few hours each day, and the sun has barely climbed over the eastern horizon than it’s sinking in the west. It could indeed be a miserable time of the year – unless we keep our eyes open and look around us.

Even the skeletal trees have their beauty, standing in our gardens and fields black and bleak in variety of forms; silhouetting themselves against the sky, raising their bare branches to implore the sun send them some light and warmth. Their prayers are never in vain, because come the turn of the year the sun heeds them and pours down more light and more warmth day by day. And underneath them, daring the coldest weather, the green tips of snowdrops begin to appear somewhere about the middle of December. The next month these harbingers of Spring shower us with their beauty, lighting up the most dismal of gardens or road verges with petals as beautiful as pearls and worth infinitely more.

.And at the darkest and coldest part of winter, in one corner of my garden yellow jasmine suddenly appears, brightening up the whole of December and January. A month later aconites make their appearance – buttercups in February! Then come the hyacinths and crocuses, vaunting with the daffodils to put on the best Springtime show.

By March, the Spring is getting into its stride and the following month, April, sees the arrival of migrant birds, swallows, martins and cuckoos. Yet loyally throughout the winter, native birds feed at my bird-table: robins, blue tits and great tits, a wily woodpecker and goldfinches among others – all adding their splashes of colour and life to an otherwise dead scene.

And what of us olden-goldies wrapped up by the fireside inside? When the weather allows, it wouldn’t hurt us to take the odd stroll outside to see what’s going on in the world of nature, till our creaking legs and the fading light tell us it’s time to turn back home. If the trees and landscape look a bit bleak we can always enjoy the stretching skyscapes, that panorama in which the leafless trees play their part, stretching their limbs in a variety of silhouettes against the backdrop of an ever-changing sky.

Best of all, when once we’ve got Lent safely behind us, no matter what our age, we can look forward to Easter and the Resurrection of new life in the human spirit as well as in the world of nature.

John Waddington-Feather ©

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