Sunshine creeps round my house, day by day extending its reach, fingering its way past window edges so that each morning and each evening I can catch glimpses of it earlier and later. This week it reached the point when it slid through a gap high in the hills, rolled down them and lit the end wall of my study, briefly illuminating the dust on the wall clock, the finger marks on the glass door.
Oh, it's spring cleaning time.
It happens every year.
This house I know and love so well is my own personal Stonehenge. As the sun hits the study wall, so I also know that I must get out into the garden, to try and get it under control before everything starts reaching out to the increasing light and warmth.
After days of bright sun, but also the sort of blistering cold wind that can remove the skin from your face, two friends and I went to look for new growth in the new light. We found it in the snowdrops here in Birlingham. This tiny ancient Worcestershire village, with its population of just over 300, has a churchyard literally filled with early spring flowers, snowdrops first. There is nothing more encouraging, more hope-filled than the sight of these bravest and earliest of delicate flowers, nodding in the slightly warmer air of early February.
Each small grave of the Victorian babies who lived here for one month or just one day has its own clumps of flowers, as have the imposing memorials of the older past members of the congregation. Snowdrops carpet the churchyard and now they are spreading out beyond the graves to decorate the grass verges of the adjoining road.
Birlingham is one of those quintessentially English places, easily missed by those in a hurry, but really not to be missed this week.
(Tea and cakes available in the village hall at weekends. A wonderful luncheon menu at The Swan Inn just down the road.)