You know how they say “The past is history; the future is a mystery, but now is a gift – that’s why they call it the present”? I feel that every British springtime and never more than now.
We didn’t have the concept of spring in Zimbabwe. There, summer was a thing and winter was a thing, but it appeared to flip from one to the other then back again. I used to read about spring or autumn in books and think they were just literary devices.
Perhaps spring and autumn did happen but were obscured by the school holidays – we had a summer term, then a winter term, then another summer term, and that dictated the format of our year. In any case, nobody ever said “It’s spring now” or “It’s autumn now”.
But here there are definite periods between winter and summer that can be classified as seasons in their own right. Spring is definitely a thing, and it always gives me a thrill.
The cold, dark winter is over and we still have the whole summer ahead of us. The grass has gone green and lush; there is an explosion of wildflowers on every patch of grass and even pushing up through pavement cracks; the crocuses and daffodils that gardeners have planted in parks and gardens burst into flower; the air is full of insects and birds are singing. It’s a glorious, fresh feeling of new beginnings.
Summer can be lovely in its own way, but it has a more aged feel. The flowers have dried up and dropped off; there aren’t quite so many bees buzzing around; the grass has gone a bit dry; it can be too hot; and the spectre of next winter starts to loom.
Spring is where the magic is. I always feel slightly desperate knowing that it’s not going to last and worrying that I might not be appreciating it properly while it’s here.
Spring began very suddenly this year, on the first day of lockdown – ironically or serendipitously, depending on your circumstances. It’s been absolutely gorgeous for the past month. For some people – those who are particularly susceptible to the virus and can’t risk going out, or those who live in places like Italy or Spain, where the lockdown has been very strict – the timing feels like a cruel joke, because they’re stuck inside while spring passes them by. (See this blog post by my friend Jackie for a description of the exasperation of being in lockdown in Italy during spring.) But for me, having all this free time, being allowed to go out, being able to go out, and having lots of parks nearby that are still open (I’ve been going out every day to go running or do a workout in a park) has felt like winning the lottery.
In the last day or two I’ve noticed that a lot of wildflowers have withered away and trees have lost their blossom and the grass has started going dry. It happened very suddenly. So I’ve been thinking thoughts of gratitude for the beautiful spring that we’ve had and that is now coming to an end and preparing myself to enter summer.
Then today I woke up to rain. Not heavy, just relentless. It rained all morning. Later it turned into drizzle, which continued all afternoon. Normally that kind of weather makes me feel gloomy, but today I was cheered by it because perhaps it will keep the grass green for a bit longer and extend this magical time by a little bit.