Saturday, 13 April 2013

Awake! Thou wintery earth.

When we walked outside our apartment building today (intent on our Saturday shopping expedition) I was suddenly aware that something was different.

Yes, it has become somewhat 'warmer' in the past few days, so we were not dressed in hats, scarves, gloves, and coats. . .

But it wasn't that.  

It was something else...

I couldn't make it out at first but then it 'hit' me: Birdsong!!!

It had been a long time since the birds sang so joyfully, for so long, filling their air with their carolling!

It gladdened my heart and, as I looked about, I realised that there was more.  

I could see little things, subtle changes that herald the approach of Spring and the glories of Summer.  We pointed out this and that as we walked along.  It was a good feeling.

Once we had got back from shopping and packed the things away, I took my camera and went back outside to record these changes for you: And the first thing I saw when walking out of our front entrance was a Robin holding Court in the hawthorn bush:

Usually I am not quick enough to take good bird photographs but this time I was lucky!

At first glance the avenue seems bare, lifeless, winter-bound . . .
Looking left:

Looking right:

And the view across from our apartment is equally unadorned:

But it is an illusion because things are happening all over the place!

For a start; where there was once brown earth and dead leaves, little plants are sprouting:

(Those larger leaves will later become the Cow Parsley and Queen Anne's Lace that adorn the pathway in Summer.)

Lesser Celandine stars the ground:
While Violets are to be seen in all sorts of nooks:
(This lot was growing between the trunks of one of the Linden trees.)

Here is more Lesser Celandine:

I don't know the name of this one.  Do you?  I think it might be a form of Toadflax but I may be wrong...

And then I saw this little orchid-like flower:

 Everywhere, things are 'coming back to life':

The leaf buds on the hawthorn bush are beginning to swell as they make ready to burst forth:
(Will we have May blossom in time for the first day of that month? I hope so.)

And even the old maple tree that the children like to climb has made a start:

This all reminds me of a story related about the life of a man named Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, a Carmelite monk, who lived in the 16th Century, in France.

It was said that:
'One winter day he noticed a tree stripped of its leaves and reflected that before long leaves would appear anew, then flowers, and then fruit, and that this consideration gave him so striking an idea of the providence and might of God that it had never since been effaced from his soul.'
I like that story.  Whenever I see the beginnings of Spring - the slow throwing off of the bedcovers that is nature's winter sleep - I am reminded of Br. Lawrence and feel a happiness in my own heart!

I do so enjoy this time of year.  I hope you do too!

The Practice of the Presence of God of Br. Lawrence of the Resurrection.  Translated by Donald Attwater.  1963. Page 2.


  1. Hello Kirk, The delicate spring flowers are also among my favorites. Spring is a good time to study wildflowers, because there is not such a profusion of them, so one can focus more on each patch or type of flower.

    Although the plant species might be different, overall your woods looks just like those in Ohio.
    --Road to Parnassus

    1. Dear Jim,
      You are right there. At this time the flowers are dotted here and there so finding each one is like finding jewels among the grass and leaves! No wonder they were so prized in the 13th Century.
      I took those photographs in the wooded verges along the avenue. It is such a delightful walk to our local shop.
      Bye for now,

  2. Dear Kirk - excellent photo of my favourite little bird - what is nicer than a chirpy, friendly Robin in the garden?
    It does the heart good to see spring finally emerging from her long sleep and I am sure it is all going to happen in one great explosion of colour this year.
    The little blue flowers are Scilla Siberica, such a pretty shade.
    I lovely walk you have through those majestic trees.

    1. Thank you Rosemary, I just happened to walk out of the front entrance with my camera on and in my hand and voila!
      Scilla - thank you for that. I know scilla as some of then grow outside an old house on the way to work but this is a different type. I am going to note that down.
      It is very nice having that avenue outside the front door but it causes complaints among delivery people who have to park round the corner and then lug whatever it is to our houses...

  3. While half-awakened Spring lags incomplete,
    While lofty forest trees tower bleak and bare,
    Daisies and violets own remotest heat
    And bloom and make them fair. Christina Rossetti

    1. I am with you there: It is the small things that make the scenes of beauty and wonder in my opinion Susan. I like the aptness of your quote, plus it gave AGA a pleasant (or perhaps unpleasant) memory of having to learn 'The Wind' when he was at school!

  4. Oh Kirk, birdsong, flora, greenery, what more could one ask for! You are ahead of us. We haven't budded out or greened up yet. Give us a couple of weeks. Your photography is absolutely inspiring!

    1. Thank you ND
      And now AGA has cleaned up the balcony so we can sit out there and take tea in the sun!

  5. I am terrible with names of flowers - I never know what anything is called! Such beautiful pictures of the first signs of spring. That bright green of brand new spring leaves has to be the prettiest color ever, don't you think?

    1. I'm a bit like that too MW, that's why I have a guide to woodland flowers in my collection.
      And I totally agree with you about that colour green. It is such an innocent colour I think.

  6. Kirk, lovely signs of spring! I think your 'orchid-like flower' is Chionodoxa.
    I love it and grow some Chionodoxa flowers in my garden.
    Robin sings very prettily, he 'calls spring to come faster'.
    Happy weekend!

  7. Dear Nadezda, I think you are 100% right! I just looked up that name on the Internet and the flower is the same. It is very nice to look at and must have escaped from a garden I guess as I read that it is a native of Turkey and the countries nearby.
    The Robin is one of my favourite birds. I wonder do they have them in your part of the world?
    Bye for now and I wish you a happy week up there!

    1. Kirk,
      I did not know that Chionodoxa grows in Turkey, it's a surprise for me!
      Here in Petersburg few people have Chionodoxa in the garden, it is not very common.
      Robins has not yet arrived. They usually live on mountain ash in my garden.

  8. Dear Kirk, your post is simply lovely, the views of your street are beautiful and those words by that wise monk are a perfect simil. Thanks for sharing this fabulous post. ( Sometimes I'm not sure that what I write is ok, please feel free of correcting me)

    Marina from Jerez

    1. Dear Marina,
      Thank you for your kind comments. Isn't it nice that Spring is finally here!
      Bye for now
      The way you write is perfectly okay my friend. I wish that I could write as well in Spanish as you do in English!

  9. Hello Kirk,

    Very happy to see Spring is with you, very good pictures. The robin is very sweet. I hope you have had a warm day today like us today (23°c) and we also had tea on our terrace, it was just perfect!


    1. Dear Ivan,
      Isn't it lovely to be able to take tea outside again. We did the same thing - on our balcony - and followed this up with dinner outside as well.
      I love Spring!

  10. Dear Kirk,

    I am enjoying your nature photographs, all the more so because here in Florida the shift from winter to spring is more a matter of temperature than visiual changes to the environment. As I look at the last photo, I am struck by how it would make a very rich wallpaper. And we'd name it "Kirkdale Green."

    1. Thank you Mark,

      I have been reading a book on contemplative photography which covers the way we 'see' things when taking photographs. I don't think that I am an expert but I was rather pleased with some of the ones I took.

      Yes the advent of Spring is always more pronounced in this part of the world. Melbourne (Australia) is in the middle. Springtime is noticeable but most native trees there are evergreen so there is no starkness becoming leafy. . .

      I have to say that your last comment surprised me - I had thought exactly the same thing!! I thought it would make a wonderful wallpaper or carpet for a Victorian house...

      Kirkdale Green - I like that!

  11. Dear Kirk,

    What a beautiful post! I so enjoyed your photos, and the lovely words of Br. Lawrence. This is such a wonderful time of year precisely because of the way a bit of close observation yields huge rewards...the very beginnings of life.. so beautiful! Our spring is a bit behind this year, so I'm still peeking under bushes for signs of life. The birds are cheerfully serenading, though, so I have great hopes that it won't be too much longer...
    Warm regards,

    1. Thank you Erika,
      I have had some problems with posting my comments on blogger this week but it seems to be back to normal now. It was deleting them!
      Anyway, thank you for your kind comments about my photographs. Brother Lawrence is something of an inspiration for me.
      The beauty of your SPring being a little behind (as ours was) is that it suddenly bursts forth in a hurry as soon as there is a sunny day!

  12. Hi Kirk,
    What are the trees in that avenue? I love the gnarled knots in the trunks, full of character.

    1. Hi David,
      They are Lime trees. We also call them Linden trees. They are lovely, have wonderful golden yellow autumn leaves and deep green summer foliage. They are often used as avenue trees.

  13. Hi, Kirk - Thanks for all the wonderful photos. Fabulous shot of the little bird!! I love this time of year! The return of birds. Plants poking up out of the ground. Longer days! Have a wonderful weekend ~

    1. Thanks Loi,
      I love this time of year too. I am waiting for the swallows to return - then I know that summer is well and truly on the way!
      I hope have a lovely weekend too - with cake. We can never have enough cake.

  14. Hi Kirk, so nice to get a glimpse of what spring looks like in Germany right now through your blog! I especially love the first photo of the avenue of old trees and all the little spring flowers. I also simply can't help it but feeling happy when spring comes around. I guess there is nothing wrong with it :-)! Wishing you a nice rest of the weekend!

    1. Thank you Christina,
      When Spring springs forth I feel happy too!

  15. hi Kirk, I love all the seasons, but spring is the one that most poetry has been written about, there is something special about and you have managed to capture that specialness it in this post. That robin is so sweet.

    1. Thankyou Catmint,
      I'm with you, I do like Spring. Everything is so fresh and alive, and changes take place almost daily as new things come back to life!

  16. Whether one enjoys winter or not, it sure is a "set-up" for the appreciation of spring. Beautiful photos. Your "avenue" is picture-perfect. Can't wait to see what it looks like leafed out.

    1. I must admit that when the avenue is in full leak it is lovely - a green tunnel of coolness on a hot day. I shall definitely post some photos then.

  17. Kirk,
    you live in a beautiful place. It's going to be hard to leave one day. There you are with a splendid apartment, and right outside, nature is all alive. A perfect way to live!

    1. Faisal,
      Thank you for your kind comments.
      Yes, it will be hard to leave but then when that day comes we have such a wealth of lovely things to look forward to back in good old Melbourne Towne! And we have such plans!!!!