RICHARD WILLIAMSON Nature Trails February 10

It’s Valentine up to his old tricks again, expecting cards and flowers, sweet nothings and thoughts of frenzy.

The snowdrops strewn as softer snow set us off, then the daffodils of the wild wood showing green bullets that will shoot flames at spring and wake it up again.

We have hated icicles long enough. All is changing. The woodland feels it happening. The dunnock is not so dull now she invites him, fussing with moss in the dell, thinking of eggs as blue as the summer sky.

The ravens croaks hungrily for love, not lambs. He rolls on his back in the air, showing how dangerous it is to fly upside down, all for her. And there the woodlark, home from France again, dropping silver bells as he rises higher, pausing just awhile on his way back to the Sussex heaths and hills.

The rooks are in the trees around the church, clanging their bells, and bringing the first sticks.

The peregrine watches from the spire, then floats his cross against the sun.

We wait, and watch, and see her with him make their helix and know she thinks of eggs to come, laid red as larva on the stones.

In downland streams, November snow has filtered through the chalk and gushes to the violet, squeezing warm scents that give us pause to walking.

Valentine must have made that potion, a shock-stop to turn us to his way of thinking. It has to work, or the world ends.

On office walls in town the sun slides higher every day, gathering glances from the prisoned windows.

Hyacinths in pots send grappling irons for escape, and cacti burst flowers from their crowns.

We want to get out, shout silent minds, captive in the web.

At last, let out for lunch, they search the shops for orchid pinks that shall make the lips so ready, thinking too of blue bracelets nestled in their cups. Will she, will he, ask the glances, frowns, and secret smiles.

So it is within this wood. Even the snails slide away in search of love, the mischief dart grown within their loins.

I shall see them soon, gathering with hermaphrodite embrace, firing their cupid arrows to each others bosoms, I shall see the shrew soon squealing with lust, and hear the owls howling over hollow trees wherein they want to lay eggs as round and white as the moon.

Everywhere here in the hedges the robins wave red flags of warning about their serious start to love, for they are ready to die for new life.

Even the pigeons croon in the darkness of the night and the pheasants blow bugle calls to 100 others celebrating the end of war in the woods.

Soon the songs will wake us in the early dawn and the blackbird will be a bore.

But Valentine must prevail, for there would be no world without.