Today I slept in a little.  It was the first day of the holidays and, in my biased opinion, I thought I deserved an extra hour or so.  Later that morning, after a leisurely breakfast supplied by the chickens, we went for a short walk.  It was meant to be a stroll down the lane with the lovely Sharon and the little man to check the mail box.  In truth we knew that it was far too early for the mail man but we simply wanted to dander a little in the sunshine and the growing hedgerows.

We walked further than the lane and a little further again.  We admired the flowers and spotted wild strawberrys in their beginnings and violets that looked like little orchids. Then we spotted what we thought were our followers; the weird black flies. It is a strange thing when you notice something and suddenly your eyes are opened to it so that you now see it everywhere.  This little, not so little really, black fly was everywhere and we could not ignore them for the rest of the walk.  Our curiosity was sparked and the books were promptly opened when we returned to the cottage.  It was Bibio marci or ‘St Mark’s Fly’, a fly that lives for only a week around St Mark’s day; 25th April.  The few days of dancing of this creature seem to mark the end of spring, and the old Irish calendar marks the beginning of summer as Beltaine, only 9 days away from now.

bibio marci from donegal wildlife by Stuart Dunlop

Some would say that summer has already arrived.  The lovely Sharon’s father was pottering around the garden today, although his pottering looks more like hard graft when compared to my pottering.  He was pulling up ancient soup celery from the vegetable patch with the lovely Sharon while I was potting young tomato plants in the greenhouse when he stopped me and pointed out the arrival of swallows above our heads.  To him summer is here.  I looked round in the sunshine and smelt the warm scented air and I had to agree.  It felt good to be working the soil today.  What made it even better was that I could here the little man babbling in his pram and summer hat.  The little man, or as we have known him recently; ‘squirty boy’, has been sick with an intestinal virus for nearly a week.  We faced dehydration, trips to casualty, endless nappies and weight loss (his, not ours).  And now he seems to be bouncing back and now appears to be endlessly hungry.  My own sister claims that it is only now that we can consider ourselves real parents.