These days are short and dark, but small things still bring great pleasure.
FLORA AND FAUNATHE FOREST WORLDSEASONS
Figures show that depression is most common during the shortest days of the year when light is scarce. It would be wrong to confuse feeling miserable with serious depression, and I do not wish to make light of it. But I warrant all of us feel a little low at times when the endless days of summer seem a long way away, and the wind chills our bones when we step out doors. Here are a few of the things that have cheered me so far this week:
I was cheered by a small cache of violets nestling in a village culvert. It will be quite some time before our woodland paths are edged with violets but, for some reason, we know that we will find them growing here just after Christmas every year. They made me smile as we took our daily stroll from the village church.
Every day throughout the winter we hang fat balls from the tiny balconies outside our lounge. Although we have seen a variety of small birds around the house over the years such as black cap, wren, finch and robin, it is the tits who entertain us with their acrobatic antics. Last year a dunnock arrived . He would hop around the balcony picking up crumbs that the tits had discarded, vainly trying to emulate them by flying up to the fat balls , but always falling back defeated. By the end of the season he had succeeded and was as adept as the tits, whom he regularly began to oust from their feeding spot. Alas, this year, the dunnock has only made a brief appearance, and seems to have forgotten this trick.
But I confess that I do have a favourite bird, and that is the blue tit. He entertains me with his acrobatics, plunging to the ground from his perch high up in the ash tree like a kami kaze pilot, but always landing safely. He likes to swing wildly from the fat balls holding on with the tiniest of claws. And of course he does look sweet, like a harmless masked bandit with his white face, blue cap and lemony yellow breast.
Yesterday we were cheered . The weather forecast predicted a day of blue skies and sunshine, but alas, as we headed into town the skies remained implacably grey. As we returned home with our shopping the steep cliffs of the 'Pas de l'Escalette' loomed before us . This is where the precipitous old road used to run before they blasted a new motorway tunnel through the mountain. It is a beautiful view , whatever the weather. But just before we turned east to head towards our village the sun broke through and an enormous rainbow stretched from one side of the valley to the other in a broad and perfect arc. Every colour was bold and clearly delineated . How I wish we could have taken a photograph, but B. was driving . Second best is an image of the rainbow that we often see from our windows over the 'cirque du bout du monde. Who knows, one day we may even find that pot of gold.
Léo le chat.
There would be no point having a cat if he didn't make you smile. Léo arrived in our lives as a small kitten who, having been abandoned in the forest , decided he was going to stay. He was sweet and submissive to Aurélie , our elderly feline incumbent. But now that he is king of the castle, he is no longer submissive. He is the boss. Ask for affection and he will treat you with disdain. Sometimes he mistakes my hand for his prey and he attacks. But he is quixotic. Just as suddenly he will decide to bestow his favours and jump up onto my knee while purring like an idling tractor. Léo is a handsome cat with ginger stripes and golden eyes. He raises a smile every single day of the year.