- my foster hedgehogs waking up and putting on weight well
- leaf burst on the hawthorn*
- geese returning
- the birds getting all excited and flitting about in pairs
- corvids nesting*
- the wild primroses
- the shoots of my black tulips
- the small leaves on my roses
- the gorgeous sunrises
- toads hopping in my garden
- bumble bees bumbling
- the robins nesting in the ivy
- gorgeous flowers on my epic rosemary plant
*a month later than usual!!!
Its a beautiful morning here. The Sun has risen a bit earlier this morning and the light is bright. It sort of feels different. In fact, this whole week has felt different – even with the gale force winds and torrential rain, the energy difference has been palpable. Its almost like there is something in the air.
There is -its Spring! Although we have a while to wait, and February can be ruthless, we can feel safe in the knowledge that it’s on the way.
This time of year is known to some as Candlemas. Another name for it is Imbolc, which apparently means Ewe’s milk. Not growing up in a rural setting, that name doesn’t resonate with me personally, and for me the lamb is always associated with Spring Equinox. But the imagery of the single candle flame resonates deeply. The first small warming of the Earth, the first small brightening of the sky, the single candle flame reflecting the start of the fires to come later.
There is an official date for Candlemas / Imbolc and its Feb 1/2. I always feel it as a more general time than a specific moment. To honour it though, the beginning of Feb is a good time. I always look for the first snowdrops as a sign – ethereal in their beauty and full of promise.
We also have another Full Moon at the end of January – making it a Blue Moon. A blue moon is when there are two Full Moons in one calendar month – and a blue Moon is a wishing moon. Perfect to combine with the energy of Candlemas. New beginnings, the first stirrings, emergence – what will you wish for?
I am blessed enough to be able to foster hedgehogs for a local rescue centre. After they have been properly looked at by a fully trained rescuer, I am one of the lucky volunteers who get to either feed them up to a safe weight in Summer ( 650g) or in Winter, if they’re underweight, look after them as they hibernate. They live in hutches in the large shed that we have in the garden, which is suitable ’cause it has windows. They are then released back into the wild as soon as is safe and healthy for them.
Before I continue, please let me give some information about rescuing a hedgehog. If its out in the day, there will probably be an underlying issue that requires expert care. If its out of hibernation in the Winter, it will probably need help too. Please take it to a wildlife rescue centre. Proper instructions from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society are to be found here
Caring for them is a funny thing as I hardly have any interaction with them, as they’re wild and nocturnal, but can still tell different personalities. I still feel sad when they’ve gone, as well as a bit proud and I try not to worry! I have so far looked after Bridget, Haru, Victoria and George to name but a few. My favourite will always be Periwinkle, seen in the photo above, who was a furious little hog. She’d trash her hutch in a way that I’ve never seen before or since and I thought she was wonderful. She ate me out of house and home. But then she lost all her weight again in the middle of her hibernation and had to be rushed back to the rescue centre to be popped in a warm place so she’d wake up and feed. She did, put on good weight, and was released in the Spring. A happy ending for my little friend.
Sadly hedgehogs are in real trouble and statistics threaten extinction within 10 years if more is not done. A leaflet is about them is available here which also contains information on what we can all do to help. If you don’t have a garden, or time to make changes to it, maybe you’d consider making a donation to a local rescue centre? They are usually staffed by volunteers who are giving their own time, space and funds to care for the hedgehogs. There is also information about Hedgehog Street here which is a great scheme.
I’m currently having a little break. The last two residents are being released last minute as its not too cold yet, and when another two are well enough and have finished their medicines, my hutch will be full again for the Winter. Think of us all shivering in our sheds! Personally I can’t wait!