We've been out looking for Spring today. Officially, Spring starts in about two weeks time, but we are impatient for sunnier, warmer days. Days where we don't need thermals and gloves and hats and woolly socks. Days where it takes us ten minutes to leave the house, not forty-five..... To stand any chance of finding this elusive Spring we stay on the valley floor (the higher you go up, the later in the season you find it), choosing what we now know to be the sunniest corner of the valley.
But the sunshine is a trickster; a persistent north wind still blows, so while it looks mild and beautifully bright from the van window, we soon are doing up zips and rapidly pulling on gloves and hats.We head off into the woods where snow still lingers under the trees. I'm not convinced there is anything Spring-like to be discovered today, it feels too much like winter still, and I huddle down in my coat a bit more and run to catch up with the boys. I ask them to search amidst the brown of the trees, the forest floor and the steeply sloping banks for anything new and growing; green grass shoots maybe, or catkins, or even a flower possibly, hopefully? Nope. Nothing.
We have walked along a footpath right at the very bottom of a huge mountain. We pass a signpost near the start of our walk that seems to point almost vertically up a narrow track that zigzags wildly through the forest, eventually ending up in the ski resort of Alpe d'Huez, a long and steep 3 hour trek away. We'll give it a miss for today. Our footpath leads us to a sunny clearing, a grassy field that sits under the rock and is blissfully sheltered from the spiky north wind.
It's here we find catkins, primroses, snowdrops and what I think are some sort of Hellebore (I'm not that great with flowers). Over the shouts and general din that our Little and not-so-Little Trekkers seem to generate I can hear a buzzard calling and I tell the boys to be still for five seconds so they can listen too. We sit in the warm sunshine eating flapjacks and suddenly feel that we might indeed have found a tiny bit of Spring.
Written by Nicola Siggs on Tuesday, 06 March 2018.
Posted in Europe