Winter in the United Kingdom is quiet. Organisms retreat underground or migrate to less harsh climates. Only simple winter scenes remain, painted in broad figures with a restricted palette of colors. The complexity of summer is temporarily washed away.
Fields are seas of black soil, prepared for spring planting.
Coastal landscapes are brown, dominated by the decomposing fronds of the bracken fern, Pteridium aquilinum.
Harvested fields are golden, covered by the stems and chaff of last year’s growth.
Pastures are under frost with only few species of grass still green at the surface.
These simple scenes do not endure. As the earth moves along its orbit, the skies brighten, and the air warms. The frost melts, and the ice retreats.
Little by little, the memories of the previous year return. And a few species begin to flower, ushering in the spring.
The gorse (Ulex europaeus) puts out a few tentative flowers, transforming coastal landscapes from uniform dark grays to mosaics of yellow and green.
And the first spring Crocus blooms begin to appear. I am glad for the return of a little life to these landscapes, and for the lengthening of the days.