I went for a walk this January morning in the English countryside. I wanted to take notes with my camera on what defined this month in nature’s gardens?
Pause for explanation: I’m having a blast trying to read and learn about nature. Nothing like shaking out the cobwebs and clearing up any self-angst by going for a walk with camera in hand. I’m going to take ‘notes’ with my camera every month this year to keep track of the changes of the season. Before this walk I spent time looking through the books on nature and wildlife that are now beginning to fill my home (yes, my family has to now deal with piles of these books everywhere!) to find out what I should look for this month. I used to cover conflicts and disasters as a journalist where I had to notice and talk to people in the midst of it all to report the story. Now my conversation is with mother nature and trying to notice what she’s up to. Of course, there were times in the past that good ol’ mother nature herself had been the news story. We live in the southeast of England surrounded by deciduous woodlands and farm fields so my nature notes will usually be focused on this local landscape.
My feet crunched through leaves and grass covered in frost as I headed down to the woodlands.
At first it seemed as if I was entering a realm still asleep in the winter. But then I noticed the landscape was vibrant with green hues as so many trees were wearing coats of moss. All different styles of moss adorned their trunks, roots and stubs.
Bluebell shoots were waking up along my trail. Peeping out from under the layers of dead leaves with their intent of beating any competition and flowering before other woodland plants. But it will still be a few more months before their bulbs show their blue flowers.
Here and there just a glimmer of tree buds as the woods prepare for their spring awakening.
I breathe in the fresh winter countryside air. Lichens do the same on tree branches around me. I know the city fumes are far away as the lichens like clean air whether cold or warm, some types preferring the shade and not the sun.
As I walk up the path of my country garden, I’m greeted by the first snowdrops. Yes, it’s January, they tell me, you’ll see more of me in February too.
I’m surprised by the sight of one tiny wild plant showing its first pink flowers despite all the recent frosty mornings.
January is named after Janus, the Roman god of doorways, of beginnings, and transitions. He’s often depicted with two heads – one looking forwards and the other backwards.
Nature seemed to agree with this January definition on my ramble. The woods and gardens are not as dormant as they seem. Bluebells have been quietly growing underground and are now pushing out their shoots through the carpet of leaves. Snowdrops are gently swaying despite the frost. And moss and lichens have been happily thriving through the winter weather. A small doorway has been opened in January for the new season to enter in the coming months.