Up at Blackdown Rings today I was lucky enough to see a hare in the pasture beneath the fort. Although I remained still for a long time, I didn't see its mate, and eventually it lolloped away. I first saw a hare on a smokey autumn day in Warwickshire when I was probably about 12 or 13. The cornfields had been cut and the hare rose up from the stubble only a few yards in front of me. Until then I had believed that hares were simply rabbits with longer ears, but was instantly struck by how powerful and angular this creature was - not cuddly in the slightest, but all muscle and poised for action.
Walking around the Iron Age ditches I noticed the gorse is in full flower and the resident robin seemed almost to be bursting with song. I have hung my special "dog-fur station" in the garden now. It's simply a wire coil stuffed with the fluff I groom out of my two hairy hounds. The birds take it for their nests - I'm sure it will make a lovely soft bed for their newly hatched youngsters.
The garden is so colourful, it's hard to believe it's only February. There are small clumps of crocus, narcissi, hellebores of varied hue and bright pink camellias. The roses are showing new growth too, particularly the far too vigorous pink climber that rambles all over the log store roof and drops its petals on our heads all through June.