Winter into spring

After fieldwork in a warm tropical country, returning to late winter in temperate latitudes feels like something of a shock.

I came back from Gabon to England in late February this year, and immediately found myself missing the warmer weather.

Days were still short, with the blue-black sky as company for mornings and evenings.

There were no leaves on the trees yet.

And only a few birds were to be found – here, a raven.

But soon, a few small signs of life began to appear, like these stinging nettles (Urtica dioica [Urticaceae]).

And the first trees began to come into flower, like this plum (Prunus sp. [Rosaceae]).

These little signs were heartening for me, and full of promises of new life. Wild garlic (Allium ursinum [Amaryllidaceae]) appeared, and was harvested for meals.

Soon the rapeseed (Brassica napus [Brassicaceae]) fields began to bloom.

All the trees of the countryside leafed out, transforming the landscape from a dark gray-brown-green to a much brighter yellow-green.

And the plane tree (Platanus sp. [Platanaceae]) outside my window at home is now swelling with new leaves. It has been a long journey from a West African dry season to temperate winter into temperate string. But life has returned to this place, and I am glad for it.

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