Saturday, 2 February 2013

Spring, Swans and snowdrops

  A boatie friend of ours often says that happiness is in direct proportion to two things - the fullness of your water tank and the emptiness of the toilet tank. Yesterday our joy was made complete by the fitting of a new bilge pump - always good to know the boat isn't going sink.
As we made our way up to the marina I was struck by how much has changed in just a week. A week ago when we moved Netty, the last dirty, slushy piles of snow remained in places. We got to where we thought we wanted to be and then had to reverse half a mile, because of the large amount of dog turds which had accumulated ( why do dog owners think they are exempt from clearing up after their animals just because there is snow, rain, wind, it's too cold, too hot, they "forgot" to carry bags...they live in Bath and are just too posh to stoop to such things...this annoys me greatly, can you tell!), someone had spilled oil in the water and there were  dead things floating around including a cat which upset me more than the dog poo. It is not unusual to see the odd drowned rabbit or pigeon. The other day it was like moving through a bizarre game soup - a pheasant , an onion, a carrot , a leek and a field mushroom all marinading together. People throw their mouldering veg into the canal, presumably for the mallards who don't want to eat that last quarter of butternut squash you don't know what to do with either - because you've been eating it in soups and curry and stew all week and can't face any more. I see the ducks and moorhens circling round and grumbling "not another bloody butternut squash - can't wait for the holiday boats to come back with their stale white bread..ah, summer.."

  So anyway, back to yesterday. Imbolc. The first stirrings of spring. What energy and life almost overnight. Snowdrops flowering in the woods. Swans renewing and strengthening their partnerships. Turning our boat last night, we got caught in the middle of a swan squabble...Rose and Harold (our stalkers, see previous post) are muscling in on the territory of Alfred, a lone male. As we manoevered several tonnes  of steel against a strong breeze, Alfie ducked around the boat and used us as sort of barrage against the interlopers. All evening and into the night, we could hear the fwee fwee fwee of swans flying low over the water, back and forth.

  Last night the spring was carried in on the cries of a vixen calling for a mate, on the wit wit wit of a tawny owl and on the strong white wings of a swan.