At last, a small break in the unending rain.Watery sunshine is seeping its way through the trees and it seems that everything is suddenly feeling better. There are aconites out beside the front door and loads of snowdrops in the garden. The birdsong has altered too. I don’t know anything about birds but I do know when they begin to sound like spring. (Click READ MORE for rest of story and picture update)

First thing this morning I think that I woke Mistress Pushkin up from a deep slumber. She appeared from behind her balustrade yawning and stretching and looking slightly cheesed off that I should have disturbed her beauty sleep.  I know she has been extending her territory recently as I've seen her, way down the lane, stalking things in the bushes.

Several days ago I was driving home and a dark coloured something shot across the road and pounced in a graceful arc into the bottom of the ditch.  I slowed right down to have a look and was greeted by Pushkin’s steady gaze.  She is not at all fazed by the car, but then I guess she got used to cars when she lived next to the university car park.  I hope, if she is going to hunt along the roadside, that she doesn’t become too blasé.

So the yawning of this morning might have been the result of nocturnal forays or it could have been simply the boring misery of so many days of rain catching up with her.  Anyway, unusually I popped back to the barn later in the morning, to get a brush and a shovel to clear a land drain, whilst the sun was out.  Pushkin was doing wonderful acrobatics along the highest beam in the barn.  She minced along with her tail held high and then sat and groomed herself before trotting nonchalantly to the end and coming down a level.  There is clear, corrugated plastic stuff in the barn roof, so maybe she felt nearer to the sun on the top beam - it is incredibly high.

I went to do my brushing and shoveling and was engrossed in trying to get rid of standing water when something leapt over the gate next to me.  I stood to investigate and saw Pushkin rushing across the yard, on a mission.  She must've been right next to me and decided to make a run for it.  I called to her and to my delight she pulled up mid dash and came back towards me, keeping the car between us.  I sat on the well and called her again and although she didn't actually come over to me she did sit and watch as I resumed my digging.  When I’d finished she allowed me to stroke her in the middle of the yard, which seems like a great step forward – as it is one thing to have a strict routine and win confidence, but quite a leap for her to have enough confidence to sit tight in an open, unfamiliar space.  I think – I hope, Pushkin will become a little helper in the garden in the springtime proper and from there it is but a short step into the house where she’ll be most welcome.