Spring and its associated hopes

The past winter was at its most severe during March, so spring is late. Resident birds were cranking up their mating songs during the blizzard five weeks ago, and migrants such as curlews returned to the moors from the marches at their accustomed times, but in other respects the resurgence of life this year has been delayed. The trees are only just now coming into leaf, and this morning, while walking the fat dog, I saw the first swallow of the year. One swallow; just one; and we’re half way through April.

But as they say, a late spring is a coiled spring. I expect it to unwind rapidly during the next week or two. I heard a willow warbler singing during the weekend, so I’m alerted to the songs of other summer migrants.

Early this morning, though, I saw a migrant that neither I nor anyone living in this part of the world could have expected: a hoopoe. It was sitting in a high branch of the white poplar tree in my garden. They’re rare even along the south coast of England, and I’ve never heard of one being spotted this far north, but there was no doubt about it: it’s impossible to confuse a hoopoe with any other species. I’ve informed local birdwatchers and the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, so other enthusiasts are now looking for the visitor. My news certainly caused excitement to judge from the phone calls I’ve received today. I hope I’ll see the hoopoe again. They’re beautiful birds.

Maybe it was a harbinger of good tidings. Chapel Arts is now on the verge of achieving recognition as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, after many months of dialogue with the Charities Commission, and when it’s finalised it will be cause for celebration. Meanwhile, Tim Knebel (of Peak in the Past) and I have submitted our application for a grant to finance the filming of some local folktales. Receipt of application has been acknowledged and we now await the decision with bated breath – but guarded optimism. My most recent storytelling gigs have gone well and I’m due to perform two more during the next three weeks, so I’m steadily reawakening interest in our wonderful folktale tradition, which should increase the potential audience for the proposed films.

I’ve submitted two more short stories to competitions, perhaps more in hope than expectation, but nothing ventured… And the latest estimate is that my novel National Cake Day in Ruritania will be published and released on to the innocent public in September.

Spring might be late, but now it’s beginning to unwind, I believe 2018 will be a good year!

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