Fluttering wrens the size of new-born mice. Freckle-chested song thrush serenading sunrise and sunset from the topmost tip of the pine. Humming bumblebees the size of, well, wrens. Spring is slow on the ground at the beach hut, but signs of new life are here.
Purple-flowered violets will come later, near-hidden under the low red pine branches and larch
With April temperatures hunkered in low single figures, snowdrops clump together, joined now by runs of primroses making a break for the next trunk, necklaced on the way. Daisies and bright celandine sprawl. For the first time, a mass of perfect wild white violets spreads under a tree outside the bathroom window. The purple-flowered will come later, near-hidden under the low red pine branches and larch.
Most of the early crocus are trampled underfoot. For which read, hoof. Henri isn’t happy. The roaming deer have gorged on her sweet young tulip stems. Hours of careful planting upended. Bulbs unearthed, beheaded. The deer have something against daffodils as these are untouched. We watch their Pantone chart turn an ever-richer yellow. They have yet to fully open.
I feel lucky to have these graceful if greedy visitors. I catch the red squirrel about to raid the bird balls until he/she sees me and lopes unhurriedly off. A Beatrix Potter character come alive.
Later, a feral marmalade cat squats unmoving at daybreak under the feeders. It too has marked the feverish sparrows, finches, tits, the bullying blackbirds.
The mornings are cool. I light the fire, fill the feeders, listen to the pheasant and the great spotted woodpecker. I note which percussion notes are played on which tree. The bass of the old oak, the tenor tap of the silver birch. Life goes on while Henri visits the hospital. Unable to be there, I walk the nearby beach. The northwest wind rages, unconcerned.
Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com