Just a little seasonal tour of my favourite place….
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 are signs all around of summer’s farewell in Blakeney Harbour, albeit one protracted by days which continue warm and dry. The dusk light last night was very different from just a few weeks ago, something I only noticed when I looked back over the photos from an evening walk along the Cut. As the sun sets ever closer to the mainland, retracing the steps of the westward arc which took it far out over the sea in mid-June, so the harbour itself changes in character.
The evidence mounts in other ways too. The mooring jetty for the big barge has returned and, one by one, the little boats will start to disappear from their buoys, seeking a cosy berth on land. The car park is becoming sparse and that subtle tipping point has been reached where there are few enough walkers on marsh that people have started to say ‘hello’ to each other again.