We did indeed get a dollop of snow last week, about an inch. It disappeared almost as quickly as it came but not before a glorious sunny Saturday, during which we made a five mile stomp through Wytham Woods to Swinford Bridge.
Skaters were out on Port Meadow where the winter floods, only a foot or so deep, were thickly frozen. It looked timeless, like a Dutch master (that's Wytham on the horizon).
The sun was surprisingly warm but once we reached the shade of the woods the air was cool. We had lunch on a fallen trunk but didn't stop long.
We came out of the woods at Swinford Gate and climbed the hill from where you get one of the best (and let's face it, only) views in Oxfordshire.
And from Swinford we got the bus home again. It's one of my favourite local walks.
But by Monday the snow had all gone and just this week, with the return of mild weather, I felt the first tug of spring, the first visceral hint that the spell of winter is starting to crack.
According to medieval folklore, Valentine's day is the moment when the birds start singing again. They've actually been singing for a few weeks already, but as I cycled to work the other morning I heard a song thrush in full voice and my heart did a little skip.