Cold Spell

A large cluster of purple crocuses opening up in the sunshine to reveal very orange anthers.
Crocus: a crowd of crocuses in leaf litter

Cold again. Always cold these days.

Outside, the garden is growing, the ratio of brown to green shifting discernibly with every infinitesimal increase of sun. Snowdrops arrived late this year, and lingered, while the crocus suffered its usual fate of decapitation by wood mice - we think they do it to get the xylem, perhaps it tastes sweet, or simply quenches the thirst on an icy day? Narcissus, hellebore and bellis are in flower, and the pale stars of vinca have been smiling at me for weeks. Daffodils are nearly out, while tulips and fritillaries continue their slow expansion of leaves, lanceolate and thrusting, forcing their way through the hard earth. The thugs - teasel and fireweed - are making mounds; dense clumps of ridged rosettes for the former, innocent pink-edged clusters for the latter. New yellow ferns, brilliant chartreuse on a dull day, defy snow, hail, everything, while their larger, darker cousins, lie concealed in the leaf-litter, still dormant in their rhizomes.

Inside, mushrooms rejoice in the seed trays, blooming then collapsing before the legitimate occupants arrive. Thin white stems of cosmos bend towards the light, their baby auxins crowding first this side, then that side, as I turn them whenever I remember. Tiny leaves gather strength from somewhere, gaining chloroplasts and indulging in the magic cocktail of sun and water. Although the warm, damp air of the kitchen was enough to start them off, they are forever looking out of the window. The garden calls them - the squabbling sparrows in the hedge, the flickering bamboo, the secret code of pheromones that rides the air - like children watching other children play, they long to get outside and join in.