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.
"Ah winter's not over yet"
I mustn't be fooled by the glorious sunshine and the long lush grass.
Collective nouns for birds