13 MARCH 1953, Page 17


THE most encouraging thing in March is the promise of spring when a freakish day arrives and there is no cloud. The sun glints on the water, sparkles on whitewashed walls and gives that wonderful side- light to everything because it is not yet high enough in the heavens to make deep shadows. Somehow on such a day every starling and jackdaw has a sheen, and the black and white of the magpie, the green and red of the woodpecker, are more vivid than in summer when they have to compete with richer shades all round. I stood by the river, and a little breeze came up the water, forcing ripples against the flow of the current. Four or five such days might find the waterhen exploring for new nesting-places, but four or five such days are too much to hope for. The hedge will have to come to leaf, the willow catkin break and the annual claims to have heard the cuckoo will have to appear in the newspapers before spring is indisputable, and summer will then be only a sunrise away.