Suddenly it’s February and the gradual lengthening of the days has become noticeable at last.
Recently we have had rain and hail and sleet and snow and gales. But yesterday for once we had clear blue skies and the temperature felt almost balmy at 6 degrees Celsius. Just for one day it felt like Spring was on its way.
The plants forgotten over winter are raising their heads – new shoots on the herbaceous varieties and a brighter look to the evergreens. Here, in pictures, is my update…
The day ended with another wonderful glimpse of the universe in all its glory – when I stepped outside I realised it was a very clear and crisp night, so I stopped longer than usual to gaze on the stars.
My favourites are the stars of Orion the Hunter, always so recognisable in our winter sky – bright blue Rigel, bottom right, red Betelgeuse, top left, and the three matched stars of Orion’s belt, with the fuzzy patch of Orion’s sword hanging below it.
I always remember that if you follow the line of the belt down to the left you will eventually end up at Sirius, the dog star, which sparkles like a diamond, blue, green and purple, on a frosty night. It is the brightest star in the night sky.
Currently the great planet Jupiter is also riding high towards midnight, but shining steadily, not twinkling like a star. It’s not far from the Pleiades or seven sisters at the moment, another great landmark (or skymark). But only on such a very clear night here in the street-lamp-lit city are they visible.
From the smallest new green leaf to the most ancient of stars, isn’t nature wonderful at this time of year?