26th February- I took the bus to Clare and walked back to Bury again. I have developed a routine of trying to sketch whilst sitting on the top deck of the bus. This has the interesting effect of uncontrolled lurches on the page, and an ever-changing view. The curves in the ploughed fields sweep around and when you look up they are gone. A memory of a gate, a red hedge of dogwood, a few cheery daffodils, bare branches.
I was hoping to see signs of Spring, and there was plenty about, but the main thing was the incredible weather. The frost was still on the ground in the shade of the old church site at Clare Priory, but this quickly disappeared as I made my way along the tracks and over the fields, and as the morning went on it grew warmer and warmer. The sky was clear blue throughout the day until I could see no more.
There was continual birdsong; a skylark went up and up, then became invisible in front of the sun; hazel branches were overloaded with catkins, and a bumble bee was out exploring sloe blossom
Yet I could not help feel this was rather odd for the time of year. A year ago there was snow on the ground and a mean Easterly wind. It turns out this was the hottest day recorded for February. And it was dry. Tracks are normally so wet at this time of year a walk from Clare results in large plates of clay attached to your boots, but not today. Tracks were cracked and fields looked parched.
How should we respond to this? Whatever the cause there is sound evidence that the surface of the Earth has been heating up since records began:
Our species has a heavy responsibility to manage this: even if it is not caused by man’s activities, (although it is highly suggestive that production of carbon dioxide combined with destruction of forests is contributing). There is an urgent need to protect the environment if we wish to keep, let alone enhance our biodiversity, and even our own survival. Beautiful though it may be to bathe in sunshine in February I feel conflicted, and the effects are here to see on our own doorstep.