Now I realise that this makes me sound particularly cretinous, but the changing of the seasons, here in England, so far, have been a complete revelation to me.
Of course, that doesn't mean to say that I don't miss the Brisbane spring with its glorious jacaranda and poinciana blossom, the warm evenings filled with the scent of jasmine. And one of my favourite things in the world was sitting out in our sun room, watching the summer storms rolling, in all their black, thunderous, roiling violence, up the hill. But there weren't quite the stark differences in old Brisvegas - maybe not in Ealing and Uxbridge, my previous homes in England either – as there are here.
When we arrived in December, the fields were crusty and brown, the hedges grey and dry, the leafless branches of the trees like cracks against the eggshell sky. Walking in Ashridge forest we kicked our way through drifts of crunching brown leaves, or sank into soggy wet paths of freezing water. It was hard to imagine that the earth was still alive, that it could blossom and thrive again, through the deadness of winter.
But so it did – first with a peppermint flush over the fields and then, quite suddenly, the sides of all the roads were alight with drifts of daffodils and snowdrops, tulips, brilliant bursts of sunshine celandines. The hedgerows frothed with pink and white hawthorn blossom, foamed with lacy cow-parsley and of course the air was full of the sound of mewling lambs, lowing cows calling to their offspring, birds a twittering.
Then came the early summer, a fountaining of thick green leaves and thicker green grass and the roses – all the houses in the village dripping with white, pale pink, hot pink, coral pink, scarlet, crimson, purple blooms. Briar roses took the place of hawthorn blossom in the hedges, blowsy pink and white flowers, tiny blackberry blossoms starring the leaves beside them. Ashridge Forest exploded with a lushness of leaves and brilliant green grass, triffid foxgloves marching across every glade. The wheat in the fields grew two feet over night and turned from green to gold.
Now the roses in the village are thinning, the briar roses have gone, but in their place are fat red rose hips and the hedges gleam with blackberries, wild apples are swelling amongst the leaves.
I had a week off walking my poor little girl, who has just been spayed (Bonnie/Snoop, not Juliette or Lydia, don't worry) and I took her into the fields for the first time today. But it was something of a shock to climb over the stile and into the wheat fields to find a wasteland of scorched earth, scattered over with straw and sprinkled with sea gulls, the hawks circling above. But there was a beauty in the turned earth as well, even under the grey sky, an Armageddon bleakness.
Though I dread the return of cold days, I am already looking forward to Autumn, to see the leaves turn once more. And, courtesy of the Tax Office, we may be able to have a fire this year!!!