The current season is Risshun or “start of spring” on the ancient Japanese seasonal calendar. This traditionally marked the New Year on the Japanese lunar calendar and seems an appropriate place to start for our 24 Seasons of Blakeney posts. At first “Spring” sounded overly optimistic for Norfolk this week, but on further reading is suggests that we are currently at peak cold and that things may gradually warm from here on in. Perhaps “spring coming” is closer to the truth. For our calendar I’ve decided on “Bright Cold” for Norfolk at this time of year.
The wild plum blossom in the hedgerow this time of year always makes me happy, and a bit nervous for their delicate blooms. But what a sign of the promise of Spring!
For several years in a row now we have gone down to the dunes at Burnham Overy Staithe for a winter walk on a bright sunny day. Mid afternoon has a lovely golden glow with the angle of the sun low in the sky. In photos it looks summer-bright, and aside from our wooly hats it could be mistaken for late afternoon in June. The angle also produces some lovely purple dawns this time of year and they are getting earlier. The pink-footed geese which this coast is known for, have been making their migration, with thousands in the sky. This year we have had a lot of weather from the south-west, where normally our winter winds are fixed in the North, so Snettisham has seen fewer than usual.
Tuesday I felt the first warmth in the sun for a long time while doing my semi-annual clean up of the courtyard. The snow drops and Tet a Tet bloomed while the heads of our mixed large narcissa pushed up among them. The allotment year has also started with the first chilli, tomato, and leek seeds going into the propagator.
Marek headed out for the first kayak of the season on a bright crisp morning. Pubs remain a season staple after our chilly walks, while root vegetables, lentils, and roasts make up most of our dinners. And of course Pancake day is another highlight! We are lucky enough to still have carrots from the allotment and winter greens like perpetual spinach to tide us over until spring’s first flush of new produce.
Events: Lexham Hall snowdrop walk 8/2 and 15/2
Holidays: Valentine’s Day 14/2
I have used italics to highlight the main features of the season.
What does this time of year mean to you? We welcome all ideas to add to this Norfolk Calendar!
“A year of nature, food and tradition seen through the ancient Japanese calendar… in which the year is divided into 24 and then 72 separate seasons.”
Marek introduced me to a new app this week and it immediately captured my imagination.
72 Seasons is a new app by the Utsukushii Kurashikata Institute. The micro-seasons are depicted using photographs, illustrations, haiku poems and seasonal food. These come together to illustrate the subtle change in the natural world. The app follows path of the sun as seen from earth, 360 degrees divided into 24 seasons, each representing a 15-degree section and lasting about 15 days.
The app is beautifully done and inspires reflection on your own life. I realised that we too follow a natural calendar here on the North Norfolk coast, or anywhere you live in tune with nature. I have long thought of certain times of year as, say, “hollyhock season”, “sea lavender season”, and “start of summer visitors season”. So I have decided to make my own version of this calendar to describe our personal journey living in Blakeney. The dates given are slightly flexible based on my research and provide a loose structure. Obviously each year is different but regardless of the precise date or order of events these are time markers in the natural world for all to see.
There was no denying it was a stunning morning. Cold and crisp, with frost in the shade and barely a breath of wind to disturb the incoming tide under a white winter sun. The only question was whether I could sneak in an outing in the kayak before starting work.
With the winds which have gusted along the Norfolk Coast all winter, this was the first time since the start of the year I’d had the opportunity to take to the water.
I paddled out, justifying the trip in my own mind by thinking I’d combine it with some scouting of the mooring location I’ve been eyeing up for our boat.
One of the great beauties of kayaking in the winter is that the colourful mooring buoys are not hidden by their boats. They stud the water with bright bursts of pink and yellow, contrasting beautifully with the ice blue of a calm winter sea.
I didn’t go far, conscious I ought to be back at my desk by a reasonable hour. Just down to where we might establish our mooring, finding to my satisfaction there was plenty of water, even with an hour of tide still left to rise.
I explored the channel which occasionally fills near the bank, wanting to take a closer look at the boat which had washed up there. She’s a sturdy twenty footer, but must have pulled free of her mooring a few weeks ago, and has been drifting around the harbour on the big tides. Last I saw her, she was on the shingle near the beach, up the Cley channel, but today she’d come for a visit in Blakeney.
A reminder of the care we’ll need when mooring our own if we don’t want her to take off for a solo tour of the harbour!