With the first official day of spring quickly approaching on 20th march, I was eager to find a day this week, between the forecasts of heavy rain, to venture out and see what early signs of this beautiful season I could find.
Spring is of course that magical time of year where we get to see the world around us awaken from its winter slumber. Rays of sunlight will soon replace the gloomy morning shadows and as the temperature slowly rises, so do the sprouting buds of the underground. Coerced from their earthy beds by the whispering promises of joy and prosperity from Mother Nature herself.
Put simply, spring is a photographer’s dream!
So, on Thursday morning when I opened the curtains to see a sky full of blue, I quickly gathered up my camera kit, filled up a flask full of coffee, put on the fluffiest socks I could find, grabbed my walking boots and headed out the door to the local woodland closest my home; Hampreston woods.
The journey to the center of the woods did not start out as well as I had originally planned. I had totally forgotten about the fact that the day before we had endured a solid twelve hours of rain here in the southwest, and it had left the woodland floor in a state of thick, muddy despair. I persevered of course, determined to reach the heart of the forest where I hoped to find some new life and color. Or at least something different from the fifty shades of brown that I was currently presented with; it took a while… Forty-five minutes of walking, hopping, and squelching to be exact before I saw any signs suggesting that spring was just around the corner.
It wasn’t until I had clambered over the third kissing gate that I noticed little droplets of yellow and orange scattered on the side of the path. I reached for my Cannon EOS R6 and crouched down as far as I could without falling in the mud under my feet, to get a closer look.
Obviously the first flower I was going to come across on my walk was going to be the Daffodil. It is the national sign of spring after all. But what caught my attention the most was how small these little sprouts were, standing no taller than 3 inches, yet perfectly formed. I decided to use my 100-400 mm lens and it’s auto setting to get a few close up shots of these dear little flowers, avoiding disturbing them too much before continuing my journey.
Just a few moments later, the sound of the birds began to get louder as pair of sparrow hawks flitted around me chasing each other in the breeze. I watched as they disappeared through a gap in the naked trees and a beacon of color caught my eye. I followed it, pushing my way through the twigs and fallen leaves when I stumbled upon a hidden little pond.
It was beautiful.
The trees surrounding this little patch of water were beginning to dress for the occasion in hues of rich greens, plumping up their leaves and providing a kaleidoscope of colors that reflected on the surface of the water. I took a few shots here and found some pretty mushrooms growing inside the belly of an old oak stump. The water was still, and I hunted around the edge in hopes of finding some frog spawn; it was to no avail.
The sun was warming up this little hub of life, as if welcoming me to rest. Without wanting to appear rude, I found comfortable place to sit for a moment and open my flask. There was nothing and nobody around except for birds, busy in their activities of song and flirtation. The springtime mating rituals choired above my head in the towering branches above, so I sat down and snuggled up to the trunk of an old horse chestnut tree and took a warming sip of my coffee.
It was a moment of tranquility. A moment I didn’t know I needed.
The more attention I paid to my surroundings in this moment of quiet, the more signs of life I was able to notice. Pops of red from the shiny petals of the Camelia flower decorated the dense shrubbery to the far left of the pond. On the ground below there were sprinkles of white that I first mistook for daisies but on closer inspection, and after consulting my flower book I determined were chickweed. A very clever little flower that can be toxic when eaten but also act as a great indicator of fertile soil. Another sign that in a few weeks this whole area will transform into a carnival of springtime colors.
I took a few more shots here before I heard a rustling in the bushes behind me. I imagined it was a family of rabbits who were waiting for me to leave, so, feeling as though I may have outstayed my welcome ever so slightly, I packed up my things and started to head off. I then realized I may not be able to find this part of the woods again, so I picked up a fallen Camila flower and secured in with twigs to a tree on the outskirts of the pond, as a sign post for myself on my next visit.
Back through the sticky mud I ploughed, keeping my eyes peeled for more hints of spring but only happened to see a few sprigs of laurel on the sides of the path. I took some close ups of the prettiest sprigs and continued the road to home.
At this point the bird song had faded, and so had the sunlight. The trees above provided a blanket of shade that seem to cast a whimsical spell upon a little thatch cottage tucked away behind the bushes of this beaten path. I wanted to take some photos here, and quickly switched my lens to the 50 mm settling on medium aperture to get the full effect of this moment. Every time I pass this quirky little house it always reminds me of the Enid Blyton books I used to read as a child. This house has so much charm and it fills me with wonderment each time I pass, and its clearly loved very much by whoever lives there; I tried to capture this in my photographing of it. The cottage signals the end of my walk on this particular route as the main road is just few yards away, so I packed away my things, reflecting on my outing.
Although disappointed I was not given many more opportunities to capture early signs of spring, I realized I must be a few days early. I must remember we cannot rush mother nature, she does things in her own time and we must respect that, besides this woodland isn’t going anywhere and if anything, I have found the perfect, place to re visit and photograph for seasons to come and the day has left me with a feeling of excitement knowing In a few weeks’ time, I will be spoilt for choice and the gloomy browns will be no more.
Warmer days are coming my friends, of this I am certain. As the farmers in their fields sew their seeds, and we welcome more sunlight into our days, I will be making a catalogue of places to visit and photograph ready for this year’s photography portfolio.
Spring really is the time of year where we can finally see the sunlight at the end of the winter tunnel, now is the time to shake off those troubles and woes and get inspired. Spend time in nature, find a hidden place to rest or bask in the beauty of a secret garden. The photo possibilities are endless.
Where is your favorite place to visit during spring?
Let me know in the comments.