In the short time I have been away winter has begun to recede and make way for spring. Walking Westie Boy the past couple of days my heart has lifted to see the snowdrops and crocuses in gardens and by the roadside, fat lambs in the fields and yellow gorse in the lanes. The days are noticeably longer, dwindling to soft greys and blues as the sun streaks the clouds with pink.
While I looked, Westie Boy sniffed. He may have missed the rabbit that hopped ahead of us, but his nose twitched at burrows, his head disappeared down the entrances to larger animals' abodes, and we had a difference of opinion about the wisdom of rolling in cow dung and fox poo.
Ewes lifted their faces as we passed, keeping a watchful eye. Their lambs, less wary, bounced about them, or nuzzled at their bellies. Farmers were making the most of the extra daylight, working in the fields. Once the elderly golden retriever at the bottom of the hill rushed out barking, but when we passed on later walks, he slept on on the porch step.
A collie ignored Westie Boy's pricked ears and eager tail. A working dog, she had more important matters to attend to.
I saw birds in the hedgerow, the first buds, a mosaic of green fields stretching over to the Sperrins. Taking photographs while holding Westie Boy's lead mainly results in blurred, shaky images, so you may have to use your imagination. The soles of my shoes are still encrusted with Derry's mud, though to a discreet degree, so my fellow passengers shouldn't notice.
Yesterday Westie Pup returned to Belfast and her own family for a few days. The boys are on half term, and she's going to get her first experience of the seaside. I hope they take pictures of her. Cousin made and received several calls about her last night and this morning. Apparently Puppy, hearing her voice, sat up. In Derry, one of us wondered aloud every so often how well she was getting on. Relieved of his responsibilities, Westie Boy alternately slept and went outside to study the night sky. He had a much wanted heart to heart with Cousin. It'll be interesting to hear how he reacts when she returns. I reckon he has a career as a puppy nanny. This is the second pup he has played with and nurtured. The one time Thuglet, Cousin's daughter-in-law's miniature Schauzner, is now a young lady and very sedate. If I hadn't seen the way she ragged him only eighteen months ago, I'd find it hard to believe.
My delayed flight is about to be called. So I shall wind up here, and start to anticipate being reunited with my own lovely boy.