Springing Into Life

It’s well and truly spring here in Creuse. How do we know? Here are 11 sure signs:

  1. The cuckoos are calling fit to burst and all the birds are singing. Our nightingale is back. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard one, but it’s such a strange, beautiful experience to hear a bird singing away in the middle of the night. The swallows have moved back into the barn and outbuildings. Every time we go into a stable, we have to duck as a startled, low-flying swallow hurtles out. They’ve repaired their nests and are sitting on the first clutch of eggs.
  2. It’s colder in the house than outside now. These old Creuse farmhouses have very thick stone and earth walls. They’re brilliant for keeping the heat in during winter, and keeping it out during summer. We now put jumpers on when we come indoors!
  3. In the space of a few weeks, the trees have leapt into life. Everywhere is white with cherry, pear, apple and hawthorn blossom.
  4. It’s time for anti-hayfever drugs.
  5. The poultry are in overdrive. We’re getting two turkey eggs, five chicken eggs and one bantam egg every day. The duck is certainly laying somewhere, but we can’t find where at the moment.
  6. The place is buzzing – the bees have appeared from nowhere again. There are butterflies and beetles zooming around, ants determinedly marching to and from their nests but no sound from the crickets yet. Any day now …
  7. The reptiles and amphibians have warmed up into action. Lizards bask on the house and barn walls in the sunshine. It’s noticeable that since we got cats, they have moved upwards! Frogs and toads sing happily in the pond.
  8. The lakes are alive. Various insects hover above them, waterboatmen skate around on the surface, dragonfly larvae creep across the floor, and the fish splash up out of the water regularly, leaving big ripples and startled ducks.
  9. We’ve changed wardrobes. This was something we didn’t do for fourteen years in Ireland as you wear the same clothes all year round there i.e. wellies, raincoat and jumpers (maybe taking them off a few days in the summer – maybe). However, here the winter stuff goes into storage and out come the shorts and tee-shirts, the floppy hats and sandals, and away go the thermals, scarves, hats, mittens, heavy coats, fur-lined boots, fleeces etc etc. We need a lot of layers in winter.
  10. We’ve all got suntans. We first used our suncream during March, but only for a few days. Now we need a blob everyday on those vulnerable, sticky out bits like noses and ears!
  11. No more lugging logs from the woodshed to the fire. Hooray! However, time to start cutting next winter’s fuel. And all that time freed up from not having to carry chunks of tree around is taken up with grass-cutting and weeding. But they’re much more fun!

So you see, it’s spring.