It’s still chilly in the shadows, but there is a beautiful warmth to the air on the sunny side of the field and under glass.
Pussy willow bursts from bare branches and daffodils dazzle in the afternoon sunshine. The air is ripe with farmyard smells as dung spreaders towed by tractors trundle through the village.
“It’s a good job no-one was walking along the pavement by the school,” one elderly woman told me last week. “The dung spreader was switched on and it went everywhere.”
She points to some muck on the pavement, but I think this might just be a tall story. If the dung spreader had been operational, the muck would have covered more than the path. It would have landed on the window of the community shop with a thwack, the poor volunteers and manager peering out through a brown-green haze.
It didn’t happen, but, already, I am imaging that it did. I can see bespectacled villages wiping their glasses, Captain Mainwaring-style, and looking up bewildered as the tractor and dung spreader go on oblivious, the farmer in headphones and listening to hip hop.
Rooks are making early morning calls as their weight wobbles the tree next door. They’re stuck on a party line and screaming at each other to put the phone down. God, that analogy dates me.
In another garden, the far more melodic song of a robin fills the air with sweetness.
In some of the fields, lambs are being born to ewes who have never before given birth but have the air of creatures who’ve done this sort of thing all their lives. There is frost on the grass, steam flowing skywards from village roofs as the central heating comes on and gossamer cobwebs spanning out like outstretched fingers in the undergrowth.
And on the outskirts of the village, this lovely Dorset village tucked into the fold of the county’s two highest hills, the toads are preparing for their great migration, returning to the ponds, where they drew their first breaths through their skin, to lay their spawn.
Go steady. There could be a toad crossing.