Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 17 March 1917

Hoar frost turned to dew as the horses came out into the farm stable-yard this morning. They knew it was a strange hand that clattered the chain harness on the cobbles. Working for years in one place, they recognise even the footstep which goes to the manger, and intelligence reveals itself in their eyes when they turn and stoop their heads for the collar to slip on. There is then a little shrinking, half apprehension, half mental inquiry, as though in study of your character, and when you speak the glance is responsive to the tone. It is almost the same with each horse when the stubble is reached and his shoulders begin to strain. Drop the long rein on his back in an unaccustomed way and you note the twitching of his flank; it takes much gentle stroking with the palm about his head before you come slightly into favour as a friend. But once this is accomplished how much more readily work is done. Your horse, you perceive, is a skilled labourer on the land.

Milder nights – a few – have brought daffodils into bloom in sheltered hollows. They are small and pale, but when, not far away, the yellower beak of the blackbird is seen digging busily it is certain that new life has come. The tips of daisies are a rich pink in the early sun. The ditch by the side of the path which leads up to the wood appears greener than yesterday; a missel-thrush is perched on an ash bough holding a stalk of straw; the honey-suckle is in leaf; just within the wood the sharp, short call of a gold-crest is heard. It is a long wait, but hardly wasted time, before a glimpse, and one only, can be caught of the bright tuft seemingly dancing away.

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Source: Guardian Climate Change