O to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now!
ROBERT BROWNING Home-Thoughts, From Abroad
As I grow older, each springtime is more splendid than the one before - or so it seems to me. This year is no exception. These past few days of mild air and blue skies have seen spring advance in leaps and bounds. Today I dawdled through the village in temperatures which must have been over 20º C. It was certainly the warmest day of the year so far. The daffodils were fading, but new life was everywhere: pear and crab apple blossom, a hint of blue on the bluebell stalks, the heady scent of vibernum's creamy flowers. In the countryside beyond the village it was too early for daisies, but bright yellow dandelions had popped up along the grassy verges since my last walk there, and the pure-white flowers of the blackthorn - glory of the English early spring - adorned the lanes like scatterings of unseasonal snow.