The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
Did you smell it in the air? I did. Last week, walking through town with a friend, we both agreed, we could smell Spring coming. A gust of fragrant growth hit us in the still-light early evening, and then as we walked through one of the colleges we admired the swathes of crocuses under budding trees.
For me, the calendar year doesn’t adequately describe the rhythm of my life. Even when I wasn’t in education or working in education, September was the new year for me. That sense of preparedness and organisation, laying down stores, anticipating a bit of downtime as the days get shorter. And yes, stationery and boots. But when the nights draw in, I can’t help but feel that I’m just girding my loins, getting ready to face the onslaught of winter and darkness. I don’t long for the dark days. I know that some people love Autumn and Winter, and I do understand why. A chance to go into hibernation, the cosiness, stodge and red wine, fires, Christmas, carols, lights, candles in the darkness. I like the tang of bonfire in the air as much as anyone else. But for me, December, January and February are something to be endured. Not to be glass half-full, but I think of cold commutes, leaving for work in the dark and getting home in the dark, days when you’re stuck inside and there’s nowhere to take the children for fresh air because it’s freezing and tipping it down. Wishing for snow, because it’s so pretty, but then the snow comes and it’s a national emergency, the stress and pressure of Christmas obligations, no Bank Holidays, dry overheating in public places… the list goes on.
And then… Spring! Sweet, sweet relief. The pleasure of seeing the bulbs I planted when we moved in burst forth once more, the blossom on the trees, the joy of sending the children out into the garden for a while to play, taking a walk outside and not needing a hat, scarf, gloves, the day you jettison your coat for a jacket. Suddenly more seems possible. Getting home in the daylight dampens the urge to change into pyjamas quite so immediately. Inspired by the thought that you might need to lose the winter insulation, that protective jumpers will soon be too warm, ensures that the consumption of stodgy sustenance decreases. The sound of the first lawnmower of the season, the smell of the first grass cuttings, the smoky tang in the air of the first dry bonfire of the year when the dampness subsides. And then Easter – a four day Bank Holiday weekend! Even better than Christmas!
As I leave for work in the mornings in the light, I breathe more deeply, lift my face to the sun, smell the potential in the air.
The dark days are over. Begin afresh.