PUBLISHED: 09:02 03 March 2014
It’s tempting to stay indoors. Outdoors it has been gloomy and raw for months, and the days show no sign of getting longer. The trees are no greener than they were in December and all life seems stalled.
What we sluggish humans need at this time of year is a shot of energy. The energy of the sun may be in short supply now and the riotous, life-giving energy of spring may yet seem a distant fantasy, but there is no shortage of energy in Norfolk. At night we lie in bed hearing the wind bashing the trees around us, whipping the springy branches of ash and whining through the brittle fingers of oak. Energy at its wildest.
We can look to the sea too, where the wind churns and sculpts the cold saltwater of winter. It is a harder energy to love, perhaps, than the welcome flower-and-birdsong burst of May, but it is the energy we need in now. Put on many layers now – coats, gloves, hats and boots – and face the wild energy of the wind and the sea. Listen to the rough crunch of your boots as they crush a line of razor shells at the strandline. Watch the wind whirl a foam of whelk-eggs by your feet. Feel the wind’s sharp lick on your face and taste on your chapped lips the salt it steals from the sea.
At NWT Holme Dunes, the beach is all energy and life. Yours is not the only story scripted today by the muscular wind from the north. Gulls, black-headed, common and herring, hurl themselves into the sea’s surf and the wind’s bluster. Red-throated divers cut lines in flight across the tormented water, passing huddles of eider tossed like life-rafts by the wind and its waves. Sanderling fidget along the shore past the orange-white-black splash of oystercatchers. Be sure there is no lack of energy here.
Nor at Salthouse, where a brutish glaucous gull tears at a mangled crab with his harsh arctic bill and a flurry of snow buntings swirls between wind-wracked tufts of curled dock and horned poppy in search of seed. A grey seal, seeming impervious to the tough tumble of the waves, peers haughtily along his nose at you. The wind shrieks inland, shredding the hawthorns, ripping the ribbons of reed in the dykes, and holding the hares to the ground in the winter wheat.
The energy is wild and free. For those who wrap up and face it, there is no more thrilling time to be outdoors, with water in your eyes, with the wind at your cheeks, and with the moor-born cry of the curlew in your ears.
For more inspirational Norfolk wildlife, visit www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk