Year of Grace, Day 106. At closer range

The other day while I was showing a friend the drops caused by guttation on the amaryllis, she noticed something I had not – the shimmer on the surface of the petals. In full sun, the shimmer twinkled like the finest of crystallized gold. The vermillion of the petals was amplified by the shimmer, especially at the turned up edges, which glistened like highly polished lacquer. It was indeed an awe-inspiring sight! What marvels wait to be revealed when we look at closer range at things we assumed we had thoroughly observed? The photo below gives but a poor reflection of this astonishing wonder.

Shimmer on amaryllis

Shimmer on amaryllis

A woodpecker visited the cherry tree while I was writing this, and permitted me to take a few photos while he or she had breakfast.

Woodpecker on cherry tree

Woodpecker on cherry tree

Woodpecker almost invisible against cherry trunk

Woodpecker almost invisible against cherry trunk

Yesterday I spied a few female flowers buds on the twisty hazel. I might be able to find some that have opened today. Here are the male catkins – they are a soft yellowy-beige and make a lovely sight against the white trunks of the birches, especially when a passing breeze shakes them gently and sets them shimmying.

Hazel catkins against birch trunks

Hazel catkins against birch trunks

Year of Grace, Day 86. A fascination with snow

Having grown up in the tropics, I have always been fascinated by snow. I woke up to it falling thick and fast this morning, and it never ceases to amaze me what a magical transformation a new blanket of snow can create. And when the landscape is of trees — evergreen and deciduous — like the yews and the neighbouring copse that enfold my back garden, the sight is even more entrancing. I find that snow, unlike rain, falls with such a hushed stillness that the everyday din from streets or cars and the usual chatter from people passing by seem thoroughly dampened – as if the whole world has decided to stop making any kind of sound at the same time. Even the two ponies and their riders from the paddock nearby went by noiselessly.

To add to this morning’s enchantment, I saw a woodpecker intently breakfasting at one of the feeders that M put out in the garden. Its black and white and red feathers were striking against the falling snow. Occasionally it would pause and look up and around, on the look out for predators, I suspect. I managed to steal a few photos and film for a good quarter of an hour before Mr. or Ms. Woodpecker took flight into the white-shrouded branches in the trees in the copse nearby.

WOODPECKER SNOW BIRD FEEDER LOOKING UP VVG_4738

As well as this enchanted scene from my windows this morning, I am grateful for my dear friend Hong Ching visiting from Malaysia, and for the joy and much laughter we’ve been having sharing reminiscences and catching up. And yesterday, another friend joined us in the evening, increasing our merriment and the decibel level of our laughter. For wonderful life-long friends, I am truly and deeply thankful. And as well for the sumptuous welcome feast that M prepared – I wish I’d remembered to take photos – prawns grilled with garlic and hot Spanish smoked paprika, a salmon cream sauce to go with it, and thrice-cooked pork with sautéed rucola and leeks. All so yummy! My contribution was dessert — a cinnamony crumble made with tangy Topaz apples, eaten with ice cream (for M and Hong Ching) and poured double cream for me.

We’ve had quite a build-up of 5 centimeters, but I suspect that it will all be gone by tomorrow morning, unless we get another snowfall overnight.