So Spring is late this year, as the weathermen keep telling us – though you hardly need a degree in meteorology to have worked that one out.
Snowdrops, usually well over by now, are still going strong, and we’ve yet to witness the cheery yellow splashes of daffodils that follow, at least in my hilltop Cotswold village. But today is the first official day of Spring. Will that really make a difference? Does Nature take much notice of red tape?
Well, the first indicator in Spring’s favour is that it’s dry enough to make it worth pegging washing on the line. Then our next door neighbour’s children (and their dog) scramble over the garden wall for the first time this year. They venture with my daughter into her outdoor playhouse, untouched since the autumn, barring a quick spider-check by me. The Famous Four then have a valiant stab at playing with the sand table, still thoroughly waterlogged with snow-melt.
But for me the strongest sign that Spring might at last be on the way materialises as I prepare Hot Cross Buns for tea – an act that will outrage traditionalists this side of Easter, even though the supermarkets have been touting them since they marked their Christmas mince pies down for quick sale. But I do like Hot Cross Buns.
I take the lid off the butter dish ready for the onslaught. With my right hand I grab a knife from the draining board; my left hand hand grips the edge of the block of butter, ready for a struggle. To my surprise, the knife slips gently down through the butter and I am able to spread it evenly and effortlessly across the ready-sliced buns. Who needs thermometers and barometers when you have a butter dish?
Perfectly soft butter: now that’s what I call a harbinger of Spring.