Waiting for the sucker punch

Hazel catkins
Hazel catkins

Most of us wish January away as fast as possible. This January has generally been mild and wet, (very wet). Guess what? Today it’s raining again, squelch!

Yesterday the sun shone, the Crocus tommasinianus opened, Iris Katherine Hodgkin flirted with the breeze, catkins waved, and snowdrop Brenda Troyle’s large  flowers bobbed (she’s the first snowdrop properly out). Daphne Jacqueline Postill was allowed to release her scent in the warming air.

Suddenly in early afternoon a front whipped through, we only got the tail, a wild, mad westerly flinging down hail putting a sudden end to the prospect of a gentle potter in the garden. We’re not out of the woods yet on the path to spring, February can still bring snow and plummeting temperatures.

The starling pair are back grackling away and excavating their old nest site under the gutter which is not ideal. The birds generally are putting on their best plumage, pairing up, and singing lustily. Last week we saw two hares in a field just up the road, one was gilded in the lowering sun.

We’ve had the webcam out since the chicky birds were taken by a fox at Christmas, nada, nuthin’. But it pays to stay vigilant, I thought I smelled a faint whiff of fox last weekend. Was it a fox passing through pushed by flooding? Or like BBC’s Winterwatch which featured a dispossessed fox on a tramp. A Brighton project has shown fox Fleet (Fleet Foxes geddit!?) did a 195 mile round trip in 3 weeks Dec /Jan when his son pushed him off home territory – whereabouts now unknown as his tracking collar dropped off.

I’ve been on an internet search for what I thought was a squash, turns out to be a watermelon, Moon and Stars, which I saw in the french Baumaux catalogue last year but couldn’t find online. There might be a UK supplier of the seed but I didn’t find one, I found a US company Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Missouri, although many US suppliers won’t ship outside the US, I’ve got my seeds. Will I achieve watermelons? Depends on the summer as much as anything I think.