Friday night saw what was almost certainly the first frost of the winter.
The mild weather has been good news for our fuel bills (or at least I bloody well hope so), and with rising power prices (and rising everything else prices) we certainly need some good news, but the environmental knock-on effects have been less positive.
Although the mild weather means that there were flowers on one of my rose bushes on Christmas Day and the annual Butterfly Conservation survey of first sightings recorded a Red Admiral on New Year's Day (Richard F. also saw one in his grandperents' garden early in January) it does mean that the passage of the seasons is all to cock.
Usually by now (mid-January) the snowdrops are out in force, and whilst there are snowdrops
(and I sent Graham out armed with camera yesterday lunchtime to prove it) from memory, there are nothing like as many as usual.
But this is where this Nature Diary thingy is going to come in useful. I have been happily watching the progression of the seasons over the last few years but not writing any of it down, so I cannot actually tell you for sure whether these impressions are true.
However, there is a bank at Cranford where there are usually dozens of snowdrops. But this year nada. I said this to Max last week and he suggested that the mild winter might actually be the reason for this. Could the snowdrops need a hard ground frost to trigger their growth?
It's a compelling idea.
But on the other hand, the daffodils, which are usually not up until March/April, were flowering over Christmas and the crocuses (which are not usually up until the end of February) are out already.
And all winter birds have been singing even in the middle of the night. Strange, huh?
With the headline, you expected me to do a link to the god-like John Otway, with or without Wild Willie Barrett singing, 'Be careful of the flowers, cos you know they're gonna get you, yeah', but I did that last year, so I am posting this song - the title at least seems chillingly appropriate (and it has a tune, so Syd will approve).
To St. George's Hill,
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people's will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs
We come in peace they said
To dig and sow
We come to work the lands in common
And to make the waste ground grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it will be
A common treasury for all
The sin of property
We do disdain
No man has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Mow everywhere the walls
Spring up at their command
They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feed the rich
While poor folk starve
We work we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to the masters
Or pay rent to the lords
Still we are free
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory
Stand up now
From the men of property
The orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers' claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed
But still the vision lingers on
You poor take courage
You rich take care
This earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
We come in peace
The orders came to cut them down