As if Spring had even infiltrated the pages of my diary, I’ve been blown hither and thither in the cause of hey nonny no etc etc. The backdrop of catkins and crocuses, blue skies and birdsong has made my busyness bearable – but my constitutional preference for SLOW is probably why Spring isn’t my favourite season. The sheer energy and constant motion of it makes me feel quite queasy.
I’m feeling the undiluted strength of it more keenly this year because it didn’t really happen in 2013 as a result of the seasonal upending that occurs if you spend any time at all in the Southern Hemisphere. And then last Spring itself was so cold and late it quickly came and went. I remember being very puzzled to return in April after my three months away to a landscape and colours not so very different from those I’d left.
An unexpected consequence of Climate Change is that Spring is not a cliché any more. No longer predictable, when it does come, aren’t we relieved, grateful that another year has turned, another winter passed and we have survived to see it? Although we’ve had a mild, relatively kind winter here, there’s still the feeling among people of relief and revival, the return of the light.
Apparently, the Equinox coincided with World Poetry Day and World Flower Day – which seems somehow suitable. They all feel like part of the same tradition, fuelled by the same ‘green fuse’, sap rising. Can’t be hurried, can’t be slowed – can only be felt coursing through you like caffeine or adrenalin.
If you’re going to greet the spring anywhere at all, I can’t think of anywhere better than Edinburgh Botanic Garden. This weekend dry bright days brought lots of folk out despite it still being cold enough to need hats and scarves. The rock garden was the perfect spot to savour the year’s new beginnings – everything in miniature, small words after the silence of winter, exquisite forms and optimistic colours, all arranged around the dramatic waterfall, skilfully landscaped levels and winding paths.
I heard on Gardener’s Question Time that ‘March comes in with an adder’s head and goes out with a peacock’s tail’ (Richard Lawson Gales, 1862-1927). I like the sound of that, the circle between the two.
Nothing is so beautiful as spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look like low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightning to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.
Gerard Manley Hopkins