Dear Friends,

                       ‘Cast not a clout till May be out!’ (Old English proverb) The May is out – I’ve seen a few brave hawthorn buds unfurling – but to be honest I think it’s been a bit premature this year, given the return of colder weather at the end of April. Still, we can look forward to a bit of physical clout-casting, as the days continue to lengthen, the temperature rises and even the more cautious among us can look forward to a bit of garden visiting.

Dear Friends,

                     This month begins with April Fools’ Day. Strangely enough I think it unlikely that the youngsters on my minibus will be fooled for long by the news that the Easter holidays have been shortened by a week so they can catch up with their learning post-Covid, or that the day is really the 32nd of March…! It is good to enjoy the occasional joke, although we like to think that we really are sure what is or is not true, and what can or cannot happen. Indeed we live in such a rational society that there are some things that just cannot happen, or can they?

Dear Friends,

                       Today is a grey, cold day. My hands are cold as I type. I look out of my study window, and I see rain in the air and bare branches shaking in the wind. It's not the sort of day that motivates me to get out! But by the time you read this letter, the weather may well be bright and sunny, with spring flowers carpeting the ground, contrasting with a bright blue sky. You just can't predict the future, can you?

     Well, to some extent, of course, you can. I can predict with a high degree of certainty that on 6 March we're going to be marking the first Sunday in Lent together, thinking about Jesus and his forty days fasting in the desert. I can be nearly as sure, sadly, that by then I'll still need to have the heating on at home! I can be equally certain that six weeks later we will be sharing the joy of Jesus' resurrection at Easter. But some timings we've relied on for years may be changing. Spring flowers are blooming a month earlier than once they did, a recent study from the University of Cambridge has shown. That sounds like good news, doesn't it? But these early bloomers run an increased risk of frost; and if their flowering season is out of synch with hibernating insects and migrating birds, flowers can remain unpollinated and chicks unfed.