I must admit winter is not my favourite season, much as I enjoy Christmas. Aside from the cold and the storms, the nights draw in that much earlier which limits the evening walks my better half and I can enjoy with the dog.
We love walking Mabel along The Monarch’s Way and the bridleways around that area (though right now it would be more accurately called The Muddy Way).
But at this time of year there isn’t enough light to be able to walk here safely and we have to save these walks for when my better half finishes early or at the weekend. Boots are a must when we can get out there and will be for some considerable time!
So during the week the evening walks are usually taken around Hiltingbury. There are far worse places to walk but I’m afraid Hiltingbury, lovely though it is, is not a patch on the rural walks (though in fairness there is no way any suburb could match that).
Mind, I do sometimes wonder if is beyond the wit of man to make a truly smooth pavement but that is just a walker’s gripe… (and don’t get me started on pot holes or the churned up grass verges).
More positively, where we are lucky is it is so easy to get out into the countryside from here – the New Forest relatively speaking is not that far away. The walks at the Monarch’s Way are even closer and then there are walks to be had in and around Eastleigh, Winchester and Romsey.
The Station Walks book features one walk from Romsey train station to our station at Chandler’s Ford via the Tadburn Meadows Nature Reserve, Green Lane, Emer Bog Nature Reserve, Flexford Road and Knightwood Road. This is on my To Do list.
There is a specific walk (Walk 27) around our area which goes through Meon Crescent, Bodycoats Road, Oakmount Road, Pennine Way, Chalvington Road and back to the station again via School Lane. This is another To Do though I think I can guess which of these two will be the most scenic!
But each season does have its merits and one thing I do like about the winter, especially post Christmas, is you do start to see the evenings becoming a little bit lighter for that little bit longer.
For me, that is one of the biggest indicators spring is on its way. To date in my garden, the first primroses are out.
I have also been pleasantly surprised to see the daffodils on the approach to Hiltingbury Infant and Junior Schools have survived, despite being out so early this year. (Frankly I was expecting them to succumb to an icy death). I just hope writing that down doesn’t become the kiss of death for them!
The crocuses are also appearing in Hiltingbury Recreation Ground.
So one of the things about winter I do like then is the looking forward to spring and I am well aware that, much as we all hate the typical British winter weather, we do need the dormant period. That wonderful new spring life has to come from something and the ground needs a resting period to enable that to happen.
Of course another lovely thing about winter is it is the perfect excuse to stay in with a hot chocolate and a good book, though getting out and about at this time of year is invigorating (and with the recent high winds even more so!). So there are lovely things about winter. They’re just not so obvious as the joys of spring and summer.
I think the major thing I do enjoy about winter, from a nature point of view, is being able to more easily admire the structure of trees. We are blessed with these in our area. With the leaves off all bar the evergreens, you can see the branches in more detail, appreciate the sturdiness of the trunks and the height of the trees.
Regarding the trunks, looking at how strong these are, isn’t it amazing that the woodpeckers have such an ability to drill into them? What pressure must be exerted on the woodpecker’s beak!
It is also nice to see the squirrels scampering about. Mabel, our border collie, shares that view albeit for different reasons! (What is it about dogs and squirrels incidentally? I haven’t come across one dog yet that doesn’t want to chase them and I’ve known some very timid dogs in my time yet they still wanted to chase the things!).
And with the leaves off the trees, I think it enables me to enjoy the sunsets more as I can see between the tree branches.
Seeing most of the trees stripped back as it were makes it easier to spot the start of nest building (yes I’ve seen some already) and the holes in the bark which will often be the winter homes of squirrels. Nothing is wasted with regard to trees.
So what is your favourite aspect of life in winter? Indoors or outdoors? What do you hate most? In my case I don’t like the mud. And Hiltingbury Recreation Ground can be a quagmire at times. Mabel often goes home half covered in mud (though very happy about that. She’s less happy about being cleaned up though).
So is beauty in the eyes of the beholder after all? For the winter season, yes I think so. It really is a question of making the most of the good points. And it is quite cheering when looking up the weather forecast on the internet to see the sunset times going back a few minutes every night. Winter is not here forever but it is a vital part of the cycle of nature as this wonderful YouTube clip produced by Eirik Solheim demonstrates beautifully.
Note: Don’t miss Allison’s next post on Friday 19th February 2016.
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