Signs of Spring

Catnip Heart Toy made at Bealtaine Cottage

Life is stirring.

Light shines higher in the morning sky.

Thickening buds cast a haze over the land.

“But there were certain early days in Casterbridge- days of firmamental exhaustion which followed angry south-westerly tempests-when, if the sun shone, the air was like velvet.”
Thomas Hardy

The woodland that surrounds Bealtaine Cottage

Colours emerge and birds sing out a joyous, higher note.

Warm weather in January

We are officially in the season of Spring in the West of Ireland and the new energy is tangible, from rising in the morning to the growing lateness of dusk.

The temperature seems rather unstable, as you can see evidence of in the photograph above.

The morning began very cold and in the space of minutes, the temperature had climbed by 18 F., causing the mirror on the veranda to steam up!

I recorded this as most of the only real information about climate and weather appears to be anecdotal evidence from social media! Cottage interior at Bealtaine, 2016

My favourite aspect of Spring is the way the light changes.

If one simply sat in this cottage and never ventured outdoors it would be possible to map the seasons in light play.

I expect birds, animals and even insects are similarly informed.

Living in the glare of artificial light can be dulling to our senses!

“She walks in the loveliness she made,
Between the apple-blossom and the water–
She walks among the patterned pied brocade,
Each flower her son, and every tree her daughter.”
Vita Sackville-West, The Land


Elsewhere in the woodland gardens at Bealtaine, frogs have emerged from hibernation and busied themselves, as only frogs can in cold ponds!

Frogs in Bealtaine pond have the luxury of a shallow, sheltered, ancillary pond, hand dug by myself, just off the main one.

This water heats faster and earlier, ensuring maximum attention to the detail of frog mating and spawning…a sort of nursery pond!

Anyway, it works a treat and has done for the past eleven years.

As a consequence, the amphibian life force has healthily expanded!

“Woods were ringed with a colour so soft, so subtle that it could scarcely be said to be a colour at all. It was more the idea of a colour – as if the trees were dreaming green dreams or thinking green thoughts.”
Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell


Frogspawn at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland, 1st Feb 2016
Frogspawn at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland, 1st Feb 2016

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

Permaculture gardens at Bealtaine Cottage Feb 2016

Diversity of planting not only has created resilience, but bestowed all year round colour to Bealtaine Cottage…so appreciated as Spring emerges…for with this rising of the sap, comes a much defined colour change!

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

Pussy Willow at Bealtaine Cottage. Ireland

Catkins have appeared on the Willow…and there’s many different varieties in the Woodland. Pond and even Orchard gardens. Essential food for the bees emerging from a hungry winter hibernation.

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Quince flowers, Bealtaine Cottage, Feb 2016

This Quince grows in the Bog Garden and has begun to flower!

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
Margaret Atwood


Where would Spring be without the exquisite little Primroses?

Seen here in the Fairy Wood at Bealtaine, surrounded by Spurge!

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Spurge at bealtaine cottage in the Fairy Wood

The Fairy Wood awakens!


You can place an order for seeds harvested here at Bealtaine cottage, from the plants seen growing here…all strong and vigorous. Click on the link below that will take you to the selection available:


I’m happy to write, photograph, podcast, YouTube and Facebook on behalf of Mother Earth…it would be great if you could take a second or two to press the LIKE button, leave a comment, or even subscribe to Bealtaine Cottage Good Life…


  1. Being disabled, it is difficult to get out and about to experience Mother Nature. So glimpses, through your words and photos, in these blog posts, enthrall me. To taste the delights of greenery, once again, its very essence, bringing back life-affirming awe at the true wonders and beauty of actual flowers and tress etc. A colourful array of nature at its best…

  2. I too absolutely love reading your posts and seeing your pictures. What a beautiful, friendly, inspiring space you have created. Now . . . . I just need to find my own space to create and nurture. With love and thanks from the west coast of Canada. xx

  3. What a truly wonderful uplifting post! Uou have made my heart sing! Bright blessings and much love from north east england xx

  4. Thanks to Geoff Lawton, I was reminded of you and have now followed you all over your virtual world. Thanks for all the inspiration. I have a little Front Yard Farmacy that I try to maximize my same love for Mother Earth. I’m in a desert, so my challenges are different, but I take them all on very willingly. It’s our only hope for true change in this crazy world we now find ourselves in.

  5. Well, the air is still like velvet sometimes after a storm in “Casterbridge” – my mother lives there and I visit often. Glad to see your frogspawn; they’re calling in our little pond, but there’s nothing laid yet.

  6. Dear Colette, I have deep gratitude from every fiber of my being for what you have done and for sharing with the world the astounding beauty of what becomes into being when we honor and work with mother earth!!! You encourage me when sadness envelopes me, as this Dec when the field out back changed hands and some of the hedgewows were hacked and burned. It sent me into a deep depression, but I found your site, your photos, the poetry, your animals. I feel like I found a kindred spirit and look forward with great anticipation to the blog. I shall go forward planting as years ago I started a hedgerow, which I will now plant in heavily. Thank you for your knowledge, I’ve learned so much already. Many blessings

    • I am deeply honoured by what you have written here Lisa and thank you!
      Despite the destruction wrought by man upon her, Mother Earth maintains her joy in every season and continues to reach out to us. Those who respond to her know exactly what I am talking about. Blessings XXX Colette

  7. Truly an exceptional post! The affirmation of Spring returning is absolutely the reward of winter, the reason for renewed hope. Thank you for illustrating it so beautifully.

  8. Thank Goodness for Spring! Signs of spring here too. I saw a tree in full bloom this week. So very grateful for Spring! Thank you for all your lovely photos of Spring shining forth. And thank you for the many lovely quotes regarding spring. Hidden jewels of literature. These beautiful quotes resonate with the heart. Spring blessings to you Colette!

  9. I think we could be great friends if we weren’t half a world apart. I too am a permaculture advocate and just as distressed about the fate of Mother Earth. I’m sitting here on a bleak winters day watching the snow fall. Two days ago it was 40 F here in Wisconsin which is unheard of. The bees even came out. We have eCh created our own fortress against the hopeless of the outside world. The question is…is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Your comments are welcome!