Sunday, 12 May 2019


The blizzards of Spring are a wondrous thing, and only some are snow.

On this hilltop, surrounded by trees, there’s one blizzard that runs year-long.

I’ve lived on three farms and know my way around a midge.

When I first came to see this place last November I noticed that two midges had hitched a ride back to Galway with me.

On my next visit I looked and saw clouds of the little buggers.

At other times in my life seeing midges that prolific in Winter would put me off living here.

I love being outdoors, so expected to turn to the landlord and say thanks but no thanks.

Instead I said “Yes please! I’ll take it!”

Right now my needs are more concerned with solitude and rebuilding than small biting insects.

I’ve a lot of healing to do, and I know how to make myself better. I was happy to trade nature for commotion, midges for traffic noise and woodlice for concrete streets.

Who knew there were so many different sizes and types of what I’d call a midge? There’s an impressive museum of assorted squashed species on the inside of my windows.

This exhibition, bought to you by a Charlie Byrne’s bookmark, wielded with some skill by The Curator (I like it!) is wholly renewed every two weeks, when I get out the Windowlene and Mr. Sheen.

I’d prefer not to kill things, so I’ve invested in an impressive combination of Citronella wick infusers and room sprays, but nothing seems to deter these brave bloodsucking blobs.

Also, it seems nobody has told them they're not meant to be biting until June. Clearly my earlobes and neck represent the gourmet cutting edge of midge cuisine.

I’m curious to see how bad it gets in Summer, when - shuddering - they’ll be out in number.

When it blows dry from the East it’s lovely, but on a warm and wet day, if the door is open for a few seconds, The Curator will have to organise several rows of new exhibits for display.

Doesn’t matter.

This place offers me what is important, and anyway the midges are only here because of the trees.

I’ll share my space with midges, just to have the trees.

They are splendid. As the weeks go by I’m learning their language, the way they speak differently, depending on which way the wind blows.

I’ve heard the treble hiss of their spare bare branches, as the freezing East wind cuts through, and their bass bellow from our prevailing South-Westerly gales.

The North wind hits the back of the house, where sycamore and beech and horse chestnut roar and scream, while out front the Southerly brings a warm whimper accompanied by occasional gusts of soprano howl.

The plethora of wildlife that loves and lives in these trees moves all around me, in blizzards of varying energy and speed.

Stepping out first thing in the morning I see everywhere blurry flashes of brown and white, as hordes of rabbits scatter.

Growing veggies here would be pointless. There’s thousands of bunnies, and while I love to grow and eat parsnips and broccoli, I can’t get what I’ve just seen out of my office window down at Aldi.

Professional growers notwithstanding, it is plain impossible not to smile when you see a bunch of baby bunnies bouncing across your lawn.

New to this patch of ground, the natural calendar unfurls around me day by day. 

It takes four seasons and then some to understand a little of the land you live on. It wasn’t until Hannah wreaked havoc that I discovered the blizzards which accompany a Spring storm here.

Every centimetre of the entire patch was covered by fallen leaves, twigs and catkins. How much damage had been caused to the trees, with all this loss of new growth?

What of all those newly-built nests?

I’m blessed by a million different types of bird around me here, and every day I need their appetites, as other blizzards are in progress.

On warm Spring afternoons the air is thick (and I mean soupy) with midges, flies and hatches of thousands of flying things, of differing size and varying levels of hairiness.

As you can tell, I’m an expert.

(Woah! Sorry, but a fox just loped across my lawn, 10 feet away from me. Look out bunnies! Or good luck, fox!)

Two weeks ago my prayers were answered. As I sat here and wrote I saw out of my window - oh bliss oh joy - the most welcome blizzard of Spring.

I didn’t know when the swallows would arrive, but as ever, on the same Southerly breeze that produced the insect hatches, they came in number, like the 7th Cavalry.

Well, if the 7th Cavalry were beautiful, aerobatic and benign. 


Mind you, benign’s not the word, if you’re a midge. There’s 10 or 15 swallows amd swifts right now diving and ascending in a manic grid outside my window, arriving for the feast of hatches and yay, stop here lads!

Spend the Summer with me. Stuff your beaks and create many babies and make my life less bitten and more beautiful.

The blizzards of Spring continue.

Blizzards of hailstones smash into vulnerable seedlings.

Blizzards of blackthorn blossom fill the air with pale pink flakes, and soon the hawthorn will offer a blizzard of white atop every hedgerow.

As I step out, weasels and sparrows, rabbits and stoats, foxes and pheasants, all dash into hedges, their movement making the fields feel alive.

Carpets of dandelions have shot up, shone yellow and blown, to be followed by rivers of daisies, while the warm glow of a buttercup blizzard awaits.

©Charlie Adley

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