Spring peeks out from the wings

St. David’s flowers stand straight and tall, jubilant and joyous in brilliant yellow, heralding spring which is peeking out from behind the wings, ready to make its eagerly-awaited entrance. Great rugs of purple, gold and white crocuses, looking sprightly and proud of themselves after withstanding the winds and the floods, are strewn across the lawns in a riot of colour. A fine peppering of early blossoms adorn the trees picture-framing the two swans nestling on the island. Here and there clumps of snowdrops dangle their tiny, white, delicate-as-porcelain bells. The day feels contented, relaxed, its nose still under the duvet in that delicious place between sleep and awakening, refusing to be disturbed even by the blackbird’s song or the rat-a-tat-tat of the woodpecker. Around the lake a lady rides her bicycle, its spokes catching the sunlight. I see her often but today, unusually, she stops by the bridge to chat. The sun, it seems, possesses the ability to make people more companionable, a phenomenon borne out as we meet clusters of laughing and joking dog walkers stopped to natter, enjoying the day’s warmth. Bill, impatient, nudges my hand with her nose. We venture over to the football pitches but we don’t stay long. After the wettest winter recorded they’re waterlogged, deep with mud, too difficult for me to negotiate so I skirt around the edge of Hamshaw Field throwing the ball for a muddy Bill until we reach the gap in the trees where the path starts its lingering journey through the woods. Trees reach out of dark pools of stagnant water, swamp-like in a scene from another country, quiet, subdued, ghostly. Back at the bridge we’re joined by a family, the parents visiting from Spain. They take great delight in playing with Bill explaining that they used to have a collie, bright and loyal, just like her. I can see the affection in their memories as they leave us with a smiling farewell and a fussing of Bill. As I rest my gloves on the bridge to paddle in the brook to clean my boots, Bill takes to the lake. She swims in a pool of light, the wake of her motion flowing out in a sliver trail behind. She turns in a gleaming flash, triumphant, the ball in her mouth. With absolute concentration, just her head above water, she brings it back to me on the bank. Just then I see it, my expensive, waterproof glove, floating in the water. “Fetch it Bill, fetch it!” I cry frantically. She dives in but doesn’t understand. She bobs around looking for her ball whilst I gesticulate madly, pointing. “There Bill!” Finally she sees it, swims forwards and grasps it. Dumping it at my feet, it’s drenched, but saved. My clever girl celebrates with a shake that sends arcs of iridescent drops flying into the air, followed by a romp through the mud with those clean paws. I laugh. Today Bill, you are excused!