Just the other day, walking along the Peak Forest Canal, I came across my first duck family of the year. This tiny armada of duck down, paddling along in the midday sunshine was an undeniable sign that springtime in Cheshire had finally arrived.
The sunny days of early May, usually signals the end of the cold days of winter, and the arrival of most people’s favourite season; spring. Full of the joys of spring is a well-known phrase, and for good reason, this is the season which probably brings more smiles than any other. It’s a season of new growth, new life, new beginnings and renewed hope.
Springtime in Cheshire
We wake to a dawn chorus, light already streaming through gaps in the curtains, as the avian choir hits the first chords, the song of the season. Daytime stretches well past evening, holding off the dark of night until many are already tucked up snug in bed, as the first bats begin their night-time foraging.
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It’s the season of colour, green spreading perceptibly across the land, as leaves recently sprouted, now unfurl providing their hosts with a living crown. Some have already blossomed, delicate pinks and radiant scarlets or dazzling yellows, now withering and falling, to carpet freshly mown lawns with fragrant petals.
It is the season of the gardener; allotment owners have been busy clearing their plots, digging them over, removing weeds and replenishing compost in preparation for this year’s crop. Their dreams filled with award winning onions or prize winning cabbage, and organic vegetables to accompany fresh lamb on their Sunday roast.
Lawns have been mowed, possibly several times already, hedges are trimmed and flowerbeds weeded. Gardens are exploding into life; colourful displays of flowers are appearing in the streets of rural towns and industrial cities alike. Many gardens are in full bloom, some, like the lovely magnolia have been and gone, their brief display already consigned to memory.
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Small birds can be spotted flitting from branch to branch, their bills often filled with small twigs, feathers or grass, as they make the finishing touches to their carefully constructed nests. Keeping bird feeders filled with a supply of nuts and seeds ensures a steady stream of vibrant visitors to our gardens. A variety of finches and titmice, goldcrest, nuthatches, robins and even woodpeckers can regularly be seen at these fly through fast food outlets for songbirds.
In woodlands, where small patches of light break through the canopy, bluebells grow in glades, flowing down shallow slopes and forming patches of colour among the trees. Deep floral carpets, forming pretty little grottos where children can believe in fairies.
Even the undergrowth is thriving, brambles form thick, impenetrable barrier while stinging nettles grow tall alongside dock plants, nature, always in perfect balance.
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The number of narrow boats negotiating the lock flight at Marple, or moored along the canal has steadily increased. Colourfully decorated, with the smoke of their wood burning stoves drifting on the light spring breeze, often mingling with the scent of freshly cooked bacon. It teases the senses, I can almost hear the sizzling sound it makes as it is being fried; mouth-watering and suddenly I feel hungry.
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Lambs have been in the fields for a few weeks now, looking strong and healthy. They are playful and frisky, galloping and frolicking around, but never straying too far from the life-giving teats of their mothers, ready to run back when in need of a snack, or reassurance.
Springtime in Cheshire has probably sneaked up almost unnoticed, the colour spreading, the days lengthening and warming, all imperceptibly, but seeing this little flotilla of duck fluff leaves little doubt that it has finally arrived.