Friday, 25 January 2013

Winter's Not over Yet

I've just been mowing the lawn!  In January!

The grass at the back of the house, in front of the wooden barn where we store our firewood, has grown ridiculously long and lush in all the rain we've been having.  To leave it would just be storing up a greater mowing challenge in the weeks ahead.

So I use the small electric mower that I bought for next to nothing in Leclerc and trundle backwards and forwards in the afternoon sun. Mind you, I have to stop every half row, turn the machine over and extract handfuls of sopping wet greenery caught under the blades (hence the reason for using the tiny mower, easy to turn over).  As I remove the wet grass I try not to think about turning blades and fingers and hope that the machine can't spontaneously turn itself on.

A robin follows me round hunting for the grubs and insects I've disturbed.

Difficult to believe that this morning I'd driven up to Eymet  for a photography club get-together in cold, thick fog.  There was a strange meteorological line at Armillac - behind me thick fog, in front glorious sunshine. And it was still there when I returned at lunchtime. But by this afternoon, we too were basking in the sun and the garden called.

I finish as dusk falls and set off back down to the cottage.  Then, in the half light, a small group of cranes crosses the sky, right over the roof of the house, low enough for me to count them - thirty-two. (I wanted to write "skein of cranes", but that didn't seem right, so googled it, apparently the collective noun for cranes is "a siege" - how lovely!)

I tell Tod about them as I come into the kitchen where he and Vita are preparing supper.

"Were they flying north?" he asks.

"No, south."

"Ah winter's not over yet"

I mustn't be fooled by the glorious sunshine and the long lush grass.

Collective nouns for birds


  1. No, but sunshine in winter gives you such a lift!

  2. Hi Helen, thank you for dropping by. Yes, it lifts the spirits doesn't it. :)

  3. Yes, north of Eymet, we were outside 'pottering' in the garden. It's still very wet and I expect it will get wetter yet.
    The collective names for birds and animals are quite facinating and apart from remembering a few of them (fr quizes and the like)their derivation has always worried me. Do the names change with the language or are they translatable?
    More time to be spent investigating!

  4. Hello Lesley, I've just sloshed back across the fields with the dogs. Vita doesn't like getting her paws wet, so she stands there saying "do I have to?" :)
    Aren't the names wonderful. I never realised. "A convocation of eagles" is magnificent! :)

  5. I have an old dictionary (Collins 1972) that talks about a murmuration of starlings and a shrewdness of apes!
    I looked up in Larousse on line and saw that the French groups were a bit boring - troupeau and vol for lots of walking animals and birds, but the funny thing was on the list of possible sub translations was 'The Bay of Pigs' for each subject.
    Our dog gets soaking every morning after an hours walk, but the last couple of days he has found and rolled in something filthy and evil smelling (fox poo?) and has had to have a hosedown with shampoo.

  6. To be able to cut the grass in January I'd have to find it first. :-) Glad you're having this sunny interval in the winter weather, Sue, but don't be deceived, there's still February to come. Enjoy the sun while it lasts....

  7. Lesley I love it. In future I shall refer to our local pig farm as "a bay of pigs!" :) :) :)

    Hello Perpetua, yes, you're so right - February can have a real sting in its tail. But it's lovely to be out there now. Hope you're able to enjoy your snow. :) :)