Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/327

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Bird Life in December.

In spite of short, dark days, it is impossible to take seriously December's claim to be a winter month.

"Old-fashioned winters," if they ever existed, waned with the stage-coach and went out finally with Dickens. For every Christmas upon which frost and snow bestow their traditional benison a dozen are celebrated to the accompaniment of drizzle and mud. Your modern December is, in fact as by the calendar, but a continuation of autumn; winter but toys playfully with the nut-brown damsel; if snow and ice appear it is but for short rehearsals, any serious call upon these scenic effects being reserved for the new year. So well is this recognised that those who are curious in meteorological matters point here and there to a Christmas Day, which was actually warmer than the following twenty-fifth of May, while no jury of youthful Britons would acquit the month of a peculiar aptitude for raising hopes of hyperborean sport only to be dissipated as soon as skates appear and the first snowball is thrown. In an average December flowers of a dozen kinds,—monthly roses, stocks, chrysanthemums, linger on in the cottage gardens. The small bat or