As deep as you can,
even the robin, singing.
spotted with fire
like a fallen sun.
We’re not there yet, not quite. But for me this is the reward for waiting through the long bare winter. Already there are signs; tiny buds that haven’t opened yet. When each one of these breaks open and shows the tiniest amount of green leaf, the whole landscape will change. A shading, a mist of green, the subtlest glaze that will deepen and strengthen every day.
Here, this year, it will come early. We haven’t long to wait.
Today we had sunshine as well, and although I didn’t manage to photograph it there was an enormous bumble bee burrowing headfirst into the flowers. First crocuses, and now bees and sunshine. I know it won’t last because that’s how it is; spring comes in fits and starts, but this was the first real taste of what will come and everyone feels the happier for it – every walker in the park today was quick to smile. In the lime trees a song thrush was belting out a glorious improvisation of cascading trills and melodies, and repeating each bit of song (which is what I’ve since learnt that song thrushes do) as if for the sheer enjoyment of it.
On days like this it’s better not to think, not to try to put anything into words, but just to look and listen and feel, to soak it all in and be refreshed and replenished. And I had to share these too.
This time of year is the hardest, when the skies hardly ever seem to be anything but grey, and the drab dullness of wet woods and sodden fields is only occasionally lifted into life by the sudden brief appearance of the sun. I’d been yearning for colour so badly that it had become a real sensation of emptiness, like hunger or thirst.
It had been raining for days and I hadn’t been out for more than a few minutes at a time, so when I got to the park again after almost a week I was completely taken by surprise – carpets of colour; purple and lavender and white, flashes of bright emerald green, and the tiniest punctuation of yellow. There was even a moment or two when the sun came out from behind the clouds. I got down on my knees in the wet grass and pushed my face as close in amongst them as I could, and just looked, and took great long breaths of colour.
They are not yet as beautiful as they were last year, and perhaps they won’t be – perhaps that was the result of freezing temperatures that carried on well into March, so that they arrived late, in April, whereas this year the ground has been drenched with rain and stayed unfrozen for the entire winter. But the effect on me was the same, and always will be; it’s like coming across an oasis after travelling for months in a desert. I just have no words for how grateful I am. For those of you who are still in the grip of winter, may Spring come soon, and in the meantime I send you the blessing of crocuses.
I thought that they would never come. This year, later than ever, more desperately longed for. Finally, they’re here.
I lay down carefully among them until I was part of the sea of white and blue and green, and listened to bees buzzing and felt the sun on my face.
No words can describe the feeling of being among flowers, under a blue sky, after such a winter as we have had. I didn’t seek words; I don’t now, all I want to do is remember this bank of flowers like a wave breaking, remember the wind which is still cold, and the sunlight dancing.
I feel blessed.
When I saw these it was a grey, overcast afternoon so even though they were almost hidden at the foot of a bank and partly covered by the overhanging branches of a fir tree they stood out in the gloom like a puddle of sunlight. They’re in one of the oldest parts of the cemetery, where trees that were planted many years ago have grown over and around the graves and the roots have toppled gravestones. I clambered over one that had fallen nearby, apologising to Ethel Watson as I did so – I always try not to walk on graves, though here it’s often hard to avoid it. The inscription at the head of her stone reads ‘Perfect Rest and Peace’, and for the few moments that I sat there gazing and taking photographs, that’s how I felt as well.
A little later and the sun did break through, so there really was sunshine on the ground – and in the branches of the trees behind. The sun stayed out as I walked home.