20th March, 2010. Dawncroaker regrets that he will not be going into the fields today due to a throat infection. Which gives me the opportunity to have a little rant…. or croak, as I prefer to call it. With the vernal equinox due to occur at exactly 17.32 today we move, astronomically speaking, into Spring. From now on our days will be longer than our nights. A cause for joy surely, like the ancient Persian Nowruz or New Year Festival which will be celebrated today by millions across Iran, Afghanistan and other parts of Central Asia. A time of re-birth, re-growth and renewal. Perhaps. But I, for one, regret more the passing of winter. I love winter, and for me, this winter has not been hard enough, cold enough, snowy enough, or long enough. I just love log-fires, the smell of woodsmoke in the air, snow, ice on ponds. Yes, I know that some people suffered this winter – the elderly, hill-farmers, flood-victims – but why, oh why, do so many unaffected people complain about it? It may have been the coldest for 30 years, but round here at least, it was, for most people, let’s face it, a doddle…. having to scrape a little ice off the windscreen, perhaps, or crank up the central heating. For some creatures, too, it may have been tough, but being smarter, if they can’t hack it, they tend to migrate or hibernate. Much was made of the revival this winter of fen-skating at Earith just up the road. But only two generations back it was possible to skate on the Cam all the way from Cambridge to Ely, and during the 18th and 19th centuries, skating matches were held in towns and villages all over the Fens. They had real winters then. As far as I’m concerned, the next one can’t come soon enough… bring it on!