This watercolour by Edith Holden perfectly captures an English February. Snowdrops blooming, busy birds, and the first tentative, and very delicate, signs of spring.
Max and I see these early harbingers of spring every day on our walks through Holywell Cemetery. The snowdrops start appearing in late January, and by February they carpet the ground.
Walking through a cemetery every day may seem a little odd, but Holywell Cemetery is a little different. It's the burial place of Kenneth Grahame, the author of the children's book, The Wind in the Willows. To honour him, the cemetery has been left wild and as a sanctuary for the animals Grahame filled his book with. Badgers, deer, fox, and hedgehogs all make their homes here, and it feels so full of life that I forget it's even a cemetery. It's alive with the natural movement of the seasons, the activities of wild creatures, and the cycles of life, so a resting place for people blends in naturally and there's nothing spooky about it. As I follow the pathways around the cemetery, I feel the fullness of life always, mingled with the memories of those laid to rest.
So in February, it only seems natural that this is where Max and I watch most for signs of spring. With the snowdrops come the birds, so busy and flighty, singing at the tops of their little lungs.
This little robin followed Max and I around the cemetery this week. He let me stand just a about two feet away from him and take some photos, and then he flew right over my shoulder, brushing past my ear and settled on the cross.
It was a very busy place, that afternoon in the cemetery. Max and I both could smell the very recent trail of a fox and we spotted deer off in the corner, grazing quietly. I didn't have my good camera with me that afternoon, so my photos could only pick up their little, white bums in the distance, but they were happy and relaxed, glad to share their wild space with us.
|You can just about see the white of the deer in the |
top photo and more snowdrops, as the sun set, below.
Now, as February passes into March, the ground will begin to warm, the snowdrops will make way for daffodils, eggs will hatch in the trees overhead, and a warmer light will spill across the gravestones. Another winter will pass into spring and to be sure, Max and I will be there, along with the foxes, deer, badgers, and hedgehogs, to mark it's progress in a cemetery full of life.
|The real badger set at Holywell Cemetery|
There's a large badger set just off one of the paths, and every time I pass it this is what I imagine it looks like down there................
in the post below, republished from 2011.