The February sunshine steeps your boughs and tints the buds and swells the leaves within.William C Bryant
There are days when the sun suddenly appears through the curtains and the world seems far too bright a place to be doing boring chores. Immediately deciding to postpone my food shopping trip, I grabbed my camera, my macro lens and ring light and set off to my favourite local haunt in the hope of discovering some early signs of spring.
Clavering Lakes are tucked away, not far from Jamie Oliver’s father’s pub and hotel but difficult to find if you have never been before. I passed pink blossom as I drove through the country lanes as well as snowdrops and daffodils. They have all been fooled into thinking it is spring because of the recent mild weather, but for me their colours are a welcome visitor to a bleak, late winter landscape.
I began a slow walk around the top lakes and soon found evidence of death and decay from last year, alongside new life springing out of the bare brown and red branches. The conditions were not ideal for macro photography as the lakes are in an exposed position and the wind was quite strong, but I persevered as usual. My solitude was interrupted by Canada geese who had begun to ‘bark’ and suddenly I could see a kestrel hanging in the air. It hovered for several seconds and then swooped down about 50 yards from me. As usual I had the wrong lens on my camera to grab a shot! I could hear men shouting and could see and hear their chain saw cutting up the dead wood on the other side of the lake. A lone fisherman was perched precariously on the end of a jetty cocooned in his waterproofs and hooded jacket. His feet dangled in the freezing water and I couldn’t help thinking he must either be avoiding something much worse in his life, like work or chores, or he was as obsessed with catching fish as I was about taking photographs.
As I continued my walk it was strange to see birds’ nests hanging precariously in many of the bushes their secrecy exposed due to the lack of foliage. I came across some very wrinkled berries that even in death provided me with bright vivid colours .
Last year is dead they seem to say, begin afresh, afresh afresh. Philip Larkin
As I made my way to the bottom lakes, having stopped several times to fix my lens on examples of the vibrant new life around me, I heard the flapping of wings. About 75 yards from where I stood the resident heron took flight, seemingly disturbed by my presence. It was then eerily quiet for several minutes until two coots squawked and drilled through the water in their haste to scare off the ducks.
As I finished my walk I couldn’t help thinking how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful part of the world. Despite the scarcity of greenery there was new life beginning all around me. It doesn’t matter what season it is, or how many times I wander around the lakes, there is always something wonderful to see and photograph. How lucky I am, to have the time ‘to stand and stare’.