Yes. Believe it or not (and it is pretty hard to believe given the pictures of snow-encrusted towns, nineteen-foot high drifts and electricity poles snapped in half by the ferocity of storms lashing across the country that are being beamed around the UK as tales of winter woe poor in from North, South, East and West all at once and with equal ferocity), Mavis, our neurotic but impressive-looking Cream-Crested Legbar Chicken, has decided Spring is here and has begun to lay her blue eggies once again.
Mavis is an odd girl by most people's standards but she is usually a pretty reliable Herald of Spring. I know she sometimes gets in a muddle and thinks she's a cockerel and tries to mate with her sisters, and it was only a couple of weeks ago that her adventurous (unkind people here would say unstable) spirit led her to attempt a daring escape from the hen run, an escapade which ended in rather silly failure when, having accomplished the hard part of breaching the fence and finding herself within a feather's breadth of the freedom of the garden, she unaccountably turned round and dropped back into the pen with the others, but, unless she knows something we don't, it does look at the present time as if her instincts have led her up the proverbial garden path.
There is no sign whatsoever of Spring's arrival here in Hampshire. The poor daffs are putting on a brave show but frankly they're fooling no-one. The frogs have re-hibernated (sensible creatures) and although a few buds are making half-suggestions of themselves on the bough and our garden birds are carrying around a hopeful beaks' worth of nesting material, there is no support for any of these season-changing nudges by the weather, which has returned after a very brief flirtation with warmer days to cold, cold, cold.
The temperature is stable at about 1 degree by day and goodness knows how many below at night; the East wind saws the skin off your face the second you put your head out the door so it feels more like minus twenty; Mr and Mrs Pigeon have been pecking with impressive but sadly unsuccessful and after a time bewildered perseverance at the frozen water in their bath, and the mud in Anemone's field has crystallised prettily but frankly impractically into silvery twinkly little shivers of crusted muddy ice that pretends to a solidity and weight-baringness it does not have (I nearly slipped over several times this morning which sent Ted into "oh my gosh mummy are you alright?" mode, and Neems into "you idiot- you nearly dropped my feed").
Where a week ago coats were beginning to start the Spring drop, leading me to hope the horses at least knew a change in the seasons was only just around the corner, they are now quite sensibly holding on to them for dear life as proof against the bitter wind raging across their paddock.
M has been cheerfully comparing this week's icy weather with the same period last year when we were all, he tells me, basking in 17 degree warmth.
I have told him there are times when a persons' unbridled joy at recording daily weather occurences is best kept to themself.
However, he does raise an important point which I have found myself pondering these last few days- is it really unseasonable weather, or have we just got so used to early Springs which don't, in the long run, help anyone, bird or beastie? If I think back to March childhood days the words that rise up in my brain are "cold, sharp, windy, bitter, chilling, raw, jumpers, coats, gloves, hats, scarves" not "sunshine, t-shirts, suntans, dry ground, grass growing and chardonnay lunches outside."
Perhaps Mavis has got it right after all then and she is in fact bang-on with her assessment of the progress of the year: these cold days may simply be the herald for Spring's arrival at it's proper time some point in the coming weeks, rather than an unreasonable icy grip meted out from a malevolent nature spirit....