For those of you still under several feet or inches of snow, some green shoots, the first a delphinium which may live - or die - to regret this spurt of new growth.
More promising are these buds on the espaliered pear, although the blossom needs to wait a while. This, in a week when the temperature has fallen again, so that it is actually painful to be outdoors without mittens.
Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that I enjoy a bargain almost above anything. Clothes for which I have paid the full price almost never become my favourites, while something picked up at Oxfam will be never off my back.
Here a little treasure trove of items acquired over the years in Essex, some three hundred and fifty miles from Cumbria. First, the woven mohair scarf, in such wonderful deep-dyed colours. Someone obviously found it too tickly to wear next to the skin. It was brand-new when I found it in a charity shop.
Then, this little dish made in Borrowdale by Lakeland Rural Industries. Once there was a thriving art metalwork industry based at Keaswick. Even in the early Seventies, items made in stainless steel were on sale. This is descibed as Hand-beaten and bears the characteristic markings of that process.
Finally, the larger bowl by John Harrison, a craftsman in metal based at Penrith. Again, this was in a charity shop in Essex. It has a mirror finish, so shiny that you can see our stained glass windows reflected in the surface.
This week's words: My younger sister gave us a Voucher for Christmas. It's a voucher for meat from Heritage Meats at Yew Tree Farm, Coniston. The web-site offers cuts of pork, beef and Herdwick lamb and mutton, using the word "Hogget". My father kept a flock of sheep on our small fell-farm, but he chose Cheviots, on the grounds that they are larger animals with light coloured wool. No one ever suggested processing the wool at home; fleeces went into a large wool-sack and off to the Wool Board. Even the daggets were bought by the travelling scrap metal merchants.
So there is a repertoire of words for sheep: hogg, gimmer, wether, twinter, yow, tip. "Smit" was the red marking pigment, used to identify the sheep as ours: two pops on one side. "Ratch" is a verb, meaning to go in search of forage. In our house it was also used for looking in drawers or cupboards which were not one's own!