February 2024 Journal

Imbolc, Leap Day, half-term, bird watching, signs of spring

A February with an extra day.  It feels like something exciting should happen on Leap Day.  But how do you follow Pancake Day in excitement?  Impossible.

February has quite a few days of interest. We celebrated Imbolc for the first time – to be honest, I didn’t even really know what Imbolc was.  Google helped.  It seems to be the midway point between the solstice and the equinox.  The fight between the dark and the light is playing out.  With the kids group at the allotment here, we made candles and lit them in jars to warm the earth.  A way of preparing the soil for planting seeds in the weeks to come.  I thought it was very sweet and I liked the ritual of it a lot.  And it did feel like from that point the signs of spring came hard and fast.  Snowdrops, just a few at first, and then carpets of them. Early this year?  And then the colour begins to come – purple crocuses, pink cyclamen, yellow aconites.  And the first bunches of £1 daffodils in the supermarkets.  I try to have several bunches at all times in February and March.  Such quick easy joy.

February brought half-term.  I love holiday weeks, especially if Ross is off work, too.  One of the biggest surprises about parenting, for me, is how you can have a Really Excellent and Satisfying Day doing things you don’t really like doing (play parks, soft play, sand pits) purely because the children are having a Really Excellent Day.  Seeing them having a wonderful time somehow means you feel like you had a wonderful time, too.  Six hours at a farm park in the drizzle?  Best day ever!

February brings flocks of birds – Vs of geese overhead, rooks already nesting, starlings.  One day Piglet & I were driving down a country lane and a huge cloud of starlings burst upwards over the dyke.  We got such a fright.  It made me think of the Borders my dad would have grown up in in the 1940s.  I imagine it was teeming with wildlife, bursting with numbers and diversity.  Imagine how the countryside must have sounded before the steep decline of numbers of starlings, sparrows, lapwings, rooks, greenfinches.  Before traffic noises.  I imagine my dad pedalling round the village he grew up in, trying to fetch his homing pigeons (the weren’t very homing) back in the basket of his bike, surrounded by movement and bird song.

The kids and I met up with my sister on Holy Island to do some birdwatching.  Tea and biscuits of the beach. The island is accessed by a tidal road.  We left in plenty of time to get safely off the island before the tide reclaimed the road.  But the lure of the interesting-looking waders and geese by the causeway road as the tide came in was too much for us.  We parked in a layby and got out with our binos.  Luckily, Ruth looked back onto the road and noticed that the water was starting to gush onto the road.  We started back to the cars and realised they were quickly being surrounded by water.  It was startling how quickly the tide came in.  I had previously judged numpties who got stuck on the causeway quite harshly.  But it is easily done! I had to wade ankle-deep to get to the car, a few more minutes and it might have been too late to get the car out.  This has provided an excellent new angle for Piglet’s car play at home.  “Look, mummy has parked in the sea again!”  

Sketchbook images below: the first snowdrops and the first bunch of supermarket daffs; a starling; a record of our Holy Island day out

February sketchbook page Hannah Longmuir
February sketchbook page Hannah Longmuir
February sketchbook page Hannah Longmuir

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