I don’t need to go far from our cottage to see the first signs of spring. Each day I’m more confident that winter is finally behind us; there are new beginnings everywhere. It’s been a while since the last frost, and wherever I go birds sing, and plants are wakening. Snowdrops and crocuses are more or less over, and even though daffodils were late this year, they too are fading. In sheltered spots a few dog violets are out, and dandelions are joining the seemingly ever-present daisies on the edges of fields.
Horse chestnuts shoot lemon-green leaves, and brambles begin to spread their tentacles in hedgerows. We’ve passed the equinox, and with the sun getting higher each day, I can feel real warmth cutting through the canopy as I walk the sheltered path down to the beach. There’s a carpet of shining fresh ivy on the woodland floor, and by the path, garlic looks as though it will flower soon.
Finding spring on the beach is not as easy. Rock pools look the same as they have all winter, with one managing to trap a starfish waiting for the next tide. There’s emerging life in the splash zone above the high tide line, and around the headland in a hidden inlet, the fleshy leaves of sea pinks peep through the gale-flattened sward of winter. There are no flowers yet, but they’ll soon cover the cliffs above this little cove. On the beach, sand hoppers, having just emerged from their winter state, jump from warming kelp on the high tide line. Kelp flies dart about, chased by hungry rock pipits, beginning to settle in for the breeding season.
Offshore, an early season holiday yacht makes steady progress against the westerly breeze; there’ll be many more when the weather improves. It’s too cold and early in the season for the groups of sea bikes which, particularly at weekends, buzz noisily from Mumbles to Oxwich Bay, causing much annoyance to those seeking peace on the cliffs.