I’ve run out of steam. For me March can be like that. The world around me has lifted; lighter and brighter, faster and smarter, pulsing in an elevated frequency – but I am not resonating to this hammering beat.

Bird business flourishes and whirrs through bush and branch, a helter-skelter of display, mating and nesting, collecting and feeding. A lattice-work city of frenetic activity. Song clamours from every direction swelling the air with vibrating tunes and notes; the head-banging enthusiasm of the woodpecker’s drumming, a heart-busting liquid cadence from a blackbird, the clear loud chime of the great-tit belling, a robin’s hope-filled spring aria, the rabble-rousing, chattering, squabble of sparrows. Even the night echoes around the vixen-cry of the barn owl discordant against the quivering ‘oos’ of the tawny owl’s hoot. The first chiffchaff, the first skylark, an imagined cuckoo…

The trees shift imperceptibly as their roots suck up draughts of deep cold water. Buds tremor, blush, swell and burst. Peeks and flashes of fresh-clean acid green. Cotton-wool buds of pussy willow, golden-rain catkins. Shoots thrust with phallic determination through wet glutinous clay topped with winter detritus.

Ice-clear light bounces off surfaces in shattered kaleidoscopic patterns. My eyes sting – hurt. I’m so far behind this living vitality. Lost still in the sludgy greys of winter, my body has yet to shed its winter skin. I feel a pale, slow, sallow shadow beside the energy of life around me. Ugly and unlovely. Soon I will catch up with mother earth but for a few weeks more I shall struggle to free myself from Skadi’s clutch.