Weak winter sunshine lends a gleam to the wet black branches and sodden earth. It's still cold, but after yesterday's day-long downpour the sun on the pavement feels like spring. A few more degrees of heat and the ground will steam and smell rich.
We are two weeks behind last year – maybe more. There are strappy crocus leaves but no yolky or purple glimmers yet, and the daffs are little green spears that reach only a few inches above the tired grass. Last year, by now, they were in bloom.
Yet it's not all bad. Perhaps the rosemary beetles who decimate my venerable old survivor won't have made it through the harsh winter, nor the aphids that cause the leaves of my plum tree to curl.
In the tangly once-grand garden to which we take Scout, a woodpecker drums insistently, and parakeets have been checking out old holes high in the larch. Spring may be a way off still, but it won't be held at bay forever.