New Year’s Day is a bank holiday (public holiday) in the UK. I was home, and when I walked the dog, in spring-like weather, everywhere was quiet.
Bar birdsong.
A car disrupted the peace – but it was soon past, reminding me of one of my favourite poems.

You can probably read Brian Patten’s January Gladsong in full for free online. It would be nicer if you bought one of his books: I don’t work for free and nor should poets! (And yes, I have two books of his poems).

Anyway, the car didn’t drown out the birdsong, which continued after it had passed.
The key lines of January Gladsong are:

‘Because… the small heartbeat of sparrow (will be) heard above jet-roar, I will sing
not of tomorrow’s impossible paradise
but of what now radiates.’

Further on our walk, there was a new, surprising sound: the buzzing of a lot of bees. They were all over a viburnum in full flower.

Now, that Tuesday was the end of a mild spell, with night-time temperatures dropping to freezing after. Where they are forecast to remain into February. I hope the bees hunkered down safely.

viburnum, bee

Apparently, there are more than 150 varieties of viburnum. For sure, I know of several that you’d not easily recognise were related.

I think this one is a variety of Viburnum tinus: it flowers through winter and grows pretty much in any soil. It is an evergreen, with glossy leaves.

Some viburnum have leathery leaves; some are deciduous, and their autumn foliage attractive. Some have fragrant flowers – but it the plant is attacked by viburnum beetle, apparently the resulting smell is foul!

  • We walked past this particular viburnum specimen again today: now shedding blossom on the pavement. No bees. Did spot a (very spindly) flowering cherry tree in blossom a few doors up!

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