The Paradox of Winter

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There is something very special about seasons which change every three months. It is a gift of nature more marked for those of us who live further from the Equator, although, also there, different wind and weather patterns  play a season role.

Living in northern England, we can love the leaves changing in autumn, but have  faint dread of the colder winter coming, Of course, if it is a day of clear skies and minus two degrees Celsius or so ,the world is wonderful and the cold is crisp and very special. But change that to plus one degree Celsius with a wind and deep cloud cover and the land and the mood is not uplifted but depressed and weary. Winter.

As I write, in mid January, I hear the birdsong of a blackbird who has been day after day at the top of the old beech tree, singing and singing into the leaden sky. It was Christmas Day when I first noticed him and he brightened the complete time of daylight. Clinging to the top branch, swaying in the cold breeze. The bird has come and sung numerous times in the same tree since. He sings in the early morning, he sings in the mid afternoon and as dusk creeps into the light,he gives a final song before dark. We may be finding winter gloomy but the birds are out, singing, snatching seeds gratefully at their table and active .Winter.

The grass of the lawn is uneven with brown, dying patches, and moss patches are breaking out in brighter greens. And there around the edges, the promise of new life as daffodil shoots come through and stretch out for light and set themselves free from being brown bulbs. I marvel at this promise of life to come and promise of it coming soon . And hidden in the shelter of a small tree, the first snowdrop is still encased, but ready to break out and bloom. Winter. 

So the birds sing through this winter and the flowers know there is a new day coming and in the middle of the winter both can put out the promise of spring and regeneration.And creation wraps that blessing of daylight around them as the earth in the north has turned passed the winter solstice.

Winter, a hard and cold season ,has been given treasures from creation to relish and use for sustenance, for encouragement , for our nurture. The light has shined in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it .

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Signs of the Times

The walk home in the heat and dust has become routine .All sorts of once strange things are familiar .The herd of cattle with their enormous horns tended by the young guys.The jack fruit stall ,the rubbish, goats hens and piglets .

Wait,the tiny piglets are now independent and the goat has now kids.The toddler is coming fowards down the stairs and the papya are ripe .The optimism of the dusty trees has been rewarded  by rain .The leaves are greener and the blossoms are out.
But most poignant of all is the departure of the swallows three days ago.On their way, heading over the huge desert to Europe .The flowers are blooming there too and it’s time to follow and greet the spring.
Thank you,all my new friends and acquaintances and your beautiful country
Time has gone and the refrain for the small children’s “see you” is silenced today out of a sad respect for departure ./em>

But hopefully Uganda …”See You.”
And a definite “See you,UK .I am on my way.”http:// http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh_Uganda,_Land_of_Beauty

Beekeeping in the Snow

Beekeeping in the Snow

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We all know, in northern Europe, that it has been a late snowy winter and that many humans are already fed up. Why won’t the Spring come ? We need it to be warmer.

We may think of the Selfish Giant described by Oscar Wilde and remember the snowy and icy garden of the giant who would not let children play there. When he relented, the spring came and the summer and the sound of happy children playing in his garden and giving him joy. The joy of seeing others happy was perhaps greater than seeing the beauty of nature. Quite something to think about for those of  us who may struggle with generosity.

But animals and bees are also struggling to welcome the first signs of spring. We see the lambs, not surrounded by daffodils but by snow drifts and cowering in fierce winds. And bees, whose queen tries to rapidly grow the colony at this time of year by laying and laying, are sitting in clusters trying to keep warm and fed. The bees of the colony have no way or where to forage for nectar and pollen. So its artificial feeding with sugar syrup , just to get them to a flowering Spring. Will it come in time ? Alas, for a few brave bees this week, they came out on a flight and returned only to  land on the snow, unable to take off again and dying  within a metre of the safety and warmth of the hive.

But the sun is warmer, now, eleven days into official spring. We feel its stronger rays and are encouraged to look skyward and see a little bit of blue sky and a very large promise of warmer and brighter times. Don’t give up a few metres from your hive of help,opportunity or hope.