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What season is it again…?

2 weeks ago, my youngest son decided to wake up at 5am and turn the TV on full blast. He woke the whole house up. As I staggered grumpily down the stairs to inform my beloved son of the errors of his ways, I took the opportunity to let my soppy old Golden Retriever out into the garden for a quick… you know what… As I stood, freezing, by the back door, I marvelled at the daffodils in my garden that appeared in the beam of the security light, nodding their beautiful yellow heads at me, as I watched my dog chase a squirrel across the garden.

It was only later that day when it occurred to me that it was the beginning of January and daffodils should not be out now.  And I certainly hadn’t been dreaming when I heard the dawn chorus a little later when my alarm clock went off. Does anyone else have spring bulbs popping up already? As for the Dawn Chorus, well that usually begins its melodic cacophony sometime in March.  Squirrels in January? Shouldn’t they be hibernating? Speaking to my Mother, I discovered that her geraniums, which died back completely when we had our first cold snap are now in full bloom once again.

This weekend just gone we had a snowball fight; however, the snow had vanished before the Sunday Roast hit the table.  This morning the outside world was an almost balmy 8 degrees on the school run.  Two words that best describe our gardens at the moment – soggy and confused. In contrast, the cyclamen are out in force, which is always a sure sign winter has arrived. It’s pretty amazing how these trumpets of colour quietly thrive at a time when not much else will grow. Yet this year, everything seems to be happening at once.

After the Paris summit on Climate Change (https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/international/negotiations/paris_en) in November/December, there seems to be a much greater focus on the impact of a warming world and the extremes in climate.  It seems that UK temperatures in December were on average two degrees higher than the average across most parts of the country. I am not alone in my concerns. Conservationists say the early stirring is part of a trend which has seen spring gradually advance over the years as weather patterns change. The Woodland Trust, (http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/) which manages Nature’s Calendar, a scheme in which members of the public record signs of the changing seasons, said spring is now arriving 12 days earlier on average than it did 25 years ago. In the first two weeks of January there have been 31 reports of snowdrops in sites ranging from Kent to Anglesey, 44 observations of hazel trees flowering from Devon to Lincolnshire and 13 sightings of elder buds bursting. There have been two ladybird sightings, in County Durham and Devon!

Checking on the BBC Weather App does not seem to help much as it just shows a merry-go-round of temperatures which seem to change wildly every day.  On the plus side, it is still bright and crisp outside in the mornings, so I can tilt the louvres on my window shutters skywards and flood my kitchen with light, without scaring the neighbours first thing in the morning. I do not have to worry about the many elderly people in the neighbourhood being frozen in their poorly heated homes, or even slipping on ice.

Yet I do worry about climate change and what we have done to our planet to cause this effect. I worry about our constant consumerism with poly-packaging and plastic bags being sent in truck loads to landfill sites. There are so many curious and extreme anomalies in our weather patterns, maybe it is not just Mother Nature trying to wake up the squirrels a bit early, maybe she is trying to tell the whole planet to wake up too, and look after the world in which we all live?  Just a thought.

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