Each year, as winter marches on into February, and the first stirrings of spring start to show, I become readied. Ready to welcome the growing number of moths to the MV. Ready to start taking in the first flowering violets. Ready to be made happy by the first flash of Wheatear white or the flick of a hirundine's wing. Time slows down, with each day of late February and early March revealing just a little bit of what's to come. Slowly, ever so slowly, it is adding to the building anticipation.
And then - WHOOSH!
It happens all at once. From bare trees to riots of blossom - from winter thrushes to summer swallows - from a lone Brimstone to a veritable selection box of butterflies in the garden. It happens too quickly, as if winter suddenly gives up the ghost with a violent shudder and instantaneously sheds its skin to reveal spring finery underneath. Every year I feel as if I've somehow missed the moment when this metamorphosis takes place. I want to rewind and take it all in, to savour it, to wallow in it. Hold onto it and not let go until I'm ready to take in the supporting cast that are on their way.
This grand unveiling of 2011 has happened, been and gone. Somehow, I was looking the other way.