It's started. That madness that eventually follows the scouring of seed catalogues and the planning of the hedging rotation. The fruits and veg, both wild and domestic are indefatigably, exhaustingly, here.
Today I have pulled and laid out to dry all the onions and shallots - enough for a great wodge of the year if drying advances more quickly than rotting. I have beheaded the globe artichokes and produced jars of artichoke bums in olive oil. I've picked cultivated raspberries and tripwire hazard blackberries and the first crumble of the season is in the oven right now. The runner bean chutney glints at me, the colour of tawny cat's eyes. Yellow courgette soup is in the fridge. Field mushrooms sit fatly in a pudding basin in the scullery for tomorrow's breakfast.
It's the start of the wild-eyed frenzy of grey rabbit activity. The hording and stockpiling, the harvesting and salting, the preserving and sweetening. Puddings are back on the menu. Vinegars are to be made. The orchard has to be checked regularly to make sure the damsons, gages and plums are caught before wasps, squirrels and birds ravage the lot. The apple crop is going to be huge, but the bottles and the crushing and pressing gear are all waiting.
We turn from bemoaning the empty shelves to wondering how we can find room for just one more jar. I don't wander anywhere without trug, colander or plastic bag. And the ducks I've been rearing for meat have started to reach the age of freezerhood.