March, March, March. The months seem to be flying by. Spring is in the air and I felt on top of the world as my winter worn body took in a massive dose of vitamin D last week. I strolled by the river full of the joys of….well….spring….obviously! I planned all the things I was going to do now that winter seemed to be on its way out. Everyone else seemed to be busy making plans too. Barbara was finally getting her chickens, Minty was almost at the end of her pregnancy and counting down the weeks, Primrose finally had her place at school confirmed and there had been a flurry of news on weddings, births and new jobs. The sale of the cottage was moving forward and structural surveys were carried out as we frantically prepared necessary paperwork. On a blissfully sunny morning, even the future appeared to to have a ‘spring’ in its step too.
Thoughts of spring bring to mind newborn lambs bouncing in fields, garish daffodils peeking up from the soil, the scent of hyacinths, nature opening its sleepy eyes once more after a long hibernation and the ability to leave the house in just a jacket without need for scarf, hat, gloves or in Poppy’s case, a Michelin man snowsuit which restricts movement but comes in handy when one falls over! Possibly my favourite(and Jerry’s least) part of spring is the slight (!) craziness it brings out in me – the saying “Mad as a March Hare” doesn’t exist for nothing, dear Reader!
Sneaking a brief moment of peace and armed with a delicious glass of red, I settled down to read the latest copy of Country Living. “Fancy yourself as a farmer?” read an article on the magazine’s Keep Britain Farming campaign. Maybe this was the job opportunity I had been looking for? I pictured myself milking cows, shearing sheep and tending to the herd on my own mini farm in a shepherdess’ outfit a la Marie Antoinette! What could be more Good Life than that? I have always quite liked the idea of being a farmer and growing my own meat. Glued to the television watching Channel 4’s First Time Farmers a few weeks ago, I had scoffed “How difficult can it be to look after a few cows?” Thus speaks the ultimate townie! The answer arrived with lightning bolt speed and was blatantly obvious as I watched with the wide-eyed realisation that REAL farming was jolly hard work. I have saluted farmers ever since for their endless daily grind. Not at all like the River Cottage life I had envisaged. I certainly wasn’t too sure about putting my hand up a cow’s bottom or giving a newborn lamb mouth to mouth, not to mention collecting dead animals from the pasture at dawn. Where was the cute and cuddly side of farming? Delicate little ducklings, reviving lambs by the AGA, bucolic scenes of harvesting and listening to The Wurzles (all together now “I’ve got a brand new combine harvester…). Hugh FW had made it all look like a dream! Thank goodness, Jerry arrived home from work before red wine masked any sensible decision making skills and I had had a chance to apply! Dear Reader, that was my first March hare moment of the week!
Leaving alternative career paths behind me, I decided to steep myself in some further countryside lore instead. Despite what BBC Weather tells us, spring is not official until the Vernal Equinox. Marking the halfway point between winter and summer, the equinox occurs on 20th March this year. Dear Reader, one might wonder what on earth this has to do with hares. Indeed! Well, hares and spring have long been entertwined, since pagan times. The hare was said to be a symbol for regeneration, femininity and love and sightings of them heralded the return of spring. Ostara (Eostre), the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility was often said to take the form of a hare or would be pictured alongside a white hare. Wonderfully mythical creatures, there are even tales of brokenhearted girls turning into hares and roaming the countryside haunting their unfaithful lovers. The phrase ‘Mad as a March hare’ is believed to have arisen as a result of how hares behave during the mating season. Solitary animals, they come together in the spring, displaying rather aggressive mating rituals as females ‘box’ away the unwanted attentions of a male they have no interest in breeding with. Who would have thought that those fluffy long-eared cousins of the bunny would be the feisty females of the animal world? Thankfully for Jerry, I can’t claim to be as feisty as a doe! I am more of a Mad Hatter’s tea party version of a March hare – a ‘say it like it is’ sort of feisty!
“Have some wine”, the March Hare said in an encouraging tone. Alice looked all around the table but there was nothing on it but tea. “I don’t see any wine”, she remarked. “There isn’t any”, said the March Hare. “Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it”, said Alice, angrily. “It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited”, said the March Hare.
(Chapter VII, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll)
Pouring myself another glass of wine (well all the best plans, spring or otherwise, have been made with a tipple or two), I focused on my second (and BEST) ‘hare’brained idea of the week, dear Reader. I think that Jerry, Primrose, Poppy and I might be even more excited about this one than we are about leaving London and moving to the countryside. Well, how could I complete no.11 on this list (11. Walk MY OWN dog) without one of these.