Rebirth

The transition from winter to spring is always, it seems, the most capricious.  The slow dream of winter unravels into instability as the season is about to change, and if there is a time when my life is likely to be unbalanced, it is often around the spring equinox.  Spring never arrives straightforwardly.  The weather swings between sun, gales, rain and fog, with occasional freezing temperatures to remind us that winter won’t leave quietly.  It is as though the energy of the season can’t be contained and wants to spiral through all four seasons before settling on one.

And perhaps this is necessary.  It is, after all, a rebirth.  Bare branches burst violently into bud, hard ground is pierced by shoots.  Spring has to be forceful because it holds the promise of the year within it.  Spring is abandoned, unruly, visceral.  From the dazzle of colour to the crescendo of song, the world is no longer quiet and contained.  It’s no accident that gales sweep in, chasing away doubt, indecision and lethargy, because for us too it is rebirth.  We slough off our winter skins, opening up after the introspection of winter, vulnerable at being out in the light again.  It can be a painful birth.  I find myself scoured and broken wide open, just like the earth.

But if the season drags me kicking and screaming, it is within it that I find comfort.  When I can hardly bear a moment more of winter, suddenly spring is here.  The world changes, our lives change, but there is re-assurance in the re-appearance of the coltsfoot flowers in the same patch by the side of the burn; in the luscious crocuses scattered across the square.  There is joy in the abundance of daffodils and marsh marigolds, in blackthorn blossom and fresh hawthorn leaves, in alder catkins garlanding the trees.

Spring is a sensory cornucopia, too much perhaps after the monochrome of February.  But perhaps spring, unlike any other season, is meant to be a shock to the system.  No matter how many springs I have witnessed, it always lifts my spirits when it arrives.  How could it not, when my eyes are suddenly flooded with colour, my ears with song?  I revel in sweeping spring energy through the house, bestowing blessings on every room; in taking down the decorations of the dark year and placing new ones above the hearth.

The struggle into spring has been a lengthy one this year.  I’m still struggling to find that balance.  There is optimism in putting winter dreams into spring practice.  This is the best time to begin because this is when we are flooded by light and colour and activity.  I’ve been slow to start and a winter heaviness lingers.  But there is always a moment of beginning.  Each spring I seek a tiny treasure, a token to remind me of the year’s possibilities.  Today I find it, almost hidden in the cemetery’s undergrowth.  The snake’s head fritillary is a flower I’ve always wanted to see but never expected to find because of its rarity.  Amid the daffodil dazzle, I might easily have missed this solitary blossom.  But as soon as I see it, I know this is my spring treasure.  Because in this moment of rebirth, what could be more appropriate than to see, for the first time, the flower once known as the Lazarus bell?  This isn’t a treasure I’ll be taking home with me, but the memory of it will be enough to light my imagination in the months to come.

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99 thoughts on “Rebirth

  1. I’ve never heard of the Lazarus bell, but it is unique and lovely, Andrea. Thank you for sharing the gift of your beautiful words. They are always welcome and needed.
    “I find myself scoured and broken wide open, just like the earth.” Applesauce! I soooo relate to that.
    It has been such a crazy yo-yo winter here. Fruit trees were already in near full bloom when winter returned yet again. Now that spring has finally sprung, it is lacking much of its finery. But that is how it was born this year. It will have its own beauty somewhere. Mega hugs!

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  2. Your celebration of spring, Andrea, is a beautiful one. The changes that open up, the many starts and re-starts to the warming season. I love this line: “It is as though the energy of the season can’t be contained and wants to spiral through all four seasons before settling on one.” And how truly wonderful for you to have found the special snake’s head fritillary…thanks so much for sharing it, and your ponderings, with us.

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  3. A lovely description of the approach of slow, cautious spring. It seems to come as if unsure of itself. At least it enables us to appreciate each new flower, shoot, bird song as they arrive, like your fritillary.
    – Richard

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  4. Are all those flowers blooming by you already? We don’t have any blooming here yet, but we have begun to hear songs from the trees, which gives me hope. Have a great week, Andrea. I’ll be dodging raindrops all week.

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  5. Oh that ‘Lazarus bell’! I’ve never seen one in person myself — lucky you! Here the snowdrops have just finished and the yellow and blue of crocus and Siberian squill are the only blooms I see — but I’m bracing myself optimistically for that broad, bold wake-up call of color. 🙂 Best Ostara wishes!

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  6. May a host of Lazarus bells ring for you throughout the coming seasons! It’s such a more life-filled name than snake’s head fritillary. My neighbour chopped down his hawthorn tree – which might account for the lousy summer we’ve had and the current lack of faerie in my life…! I could do with a Lazarus bell.

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  7. Your well crafted piece is so timely and echoes many of my own feelings. The equinox took me by surprise this year and has left me exhausted and confused somehow. Thank you for reminding me of so much, and how lovely to find that fritillary… 🙂

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  8. Takes longer for spring to come for us in the mountains (8,500′) and, when it does it’s shorter than normal. We usually don’t see the aspens budding until mid May, if it’s been warm. Then, shortly after summer jumps in full blast in June, July and August and come September it begins to wind down again.

    Love the transitions, but man it’s over before you know it. Thanks Andrea for sharing your part of the world with us. 🙂

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  9. What a perfect name for a flower growing in a cemetery. Lovely post. Nice to see spring in other parts of the world. No green shoots here yet but we’re getting a proper deluge tomorrow that should wash away the last of the snow. Yay.

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  10. Beautiful prose as ever, Andrea. Spring has truly arrived and I have the urge to work in the house and garden. I love to see snake’s head fritillarys – such strange, wonderful flowers. I hope the memory of finding it continues to give you pleasure and fires your imagination through the coming year.

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  11. Wow. Your words, pictures, symbolism, everything both completely resonated with me and swept me away. Our spring is trying to come in, hitting us in fits and spurts. Where I live, early bulbs are blooming. We have huge, commercial daffodil fields in full bloom right now. Life has been mirroring our spring weather, and I’m thinking and hoping things are finally starting to settle down a little bit.

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  12. Your writing is so thoughtful and beautiful–I have a lot of mixed feelings about spring and you’ve captured some of them in ways I never could put into words. It’ll be weeks before spring advances here, as it has for you already, but I’ll look for my own tiny treasure, or token, when it comes!

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  13. Andrea, your vivid images of spring being birthed are powerful. I’ll never picture Spring again as mild and gentle winds and warm sunshine. The picture of the treasured flower is beautiful. A sight worth waiting for and remembering.

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  14. You’re so right in the somewhat violent bursts of spring. I really hadn’t thought about it that way. I guess all births are somewhat violent, right? And yet, I’ve always loved spring for its gentleness. Perhaps I love it because it reflects the revolutionary and the gentle soul, all in one. That is a tall order. Beautiful post, as usual.

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  15. I thought your Spring blog post might be along soon Andrea – observant and lyrical as always. Capricious is a good word. Even three weeks ago our little jogging group was frolicking along the sands of Grouville Bay enjoying the warm sun and wind-less conditions. Within days we were all wrapped up again, having retreated inland for the shelter of the lanes and hedges 🙂

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  16. Oh Andrea, what a glorious and tender find, such a gorgeous flower amidst the daffodils and crocuses, there it was, your Lazarus Bell. Thank you for taking me with you through winter to spring, to the burst of colour and to the hope of a new day through the hard, cold earth to the promise of a fresh start. LIfe anew, a spring bursting forth with creativity and beautiful writing, like yours 🙂

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      • As I always enjoy greatly joining you Andrea…although I am far away from blogging at the moment. I’ll be signing off with a post shortly – been trying to do so for the past 2 weeks! I’m overwhelmed with family ‘stuff’ – possible house move amongst that lot – and of course, every moment I can get I am snatching precious memoir writing time. I am focused 100% on that writing wise and am finding it impossible to blog too, even with my plan to try ‘short but sweet’. I just can’t do it. I hope not to be gone too long, and I shall return, but right now…something’s gotta give and I’m hanging by a thread as it is! I hope you are well…I miss you & so sorry to miss you posts as I’m sure I have missed some. I haven’t visited anybody for ages…I hope everyone will understand. I hope your spring is full of promise and bringing you nothing but good things as you deserve my friend…see you again soon! ❤

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      • It’s lovely to see you Sherri and of course we all understand that life gets in the way of blogging sometimes! I hope you’re well despite everything you have going on and I hope you’re managing to fit in some ‘you’ time and a little creativity. Stay well 🙂

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  17. Love the beautiful writing here, Andrea, as usual. I love to contrast your descriptions with my world here in the Inland Empire area of Southern California (the Inland Empire is a region that is about an hour away from the Pacific Ocean and Los Angeles proper, also in between the high/low desert areas of Palm Springs and the more southern San Diego county area). You are walking through the woods and finding a rare blossom, while I am driving on freeways in the too-bright sun looking up at the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountain ranges, which still have a little snow left in the top crevices. There are wildflowers blooming by the freeways now after our rains, for which we were desperate, and many are scrambling to get out to the deserts to see the wildflowers that have been so sparse during the past five-seven years. The bright magenta iceplant is spreading across the hillsides, as fields of mustard blossoms are abundant too. It is an area of constant mobility, driving, the Metrolink to Los Angeles, bicycles, and suburban scenes dominate, except for the view of the mountains in the north.The dry heat of summer sometimes pushes out the spring mood too quickly, and we did reach 93 degrees Fahrenheit one day. Today, I am here at Starbucks at a table away from the brightness of the tall windows, and my weather app tells me it is 87 degrees. Here’s to the weather, in all its moods!

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    • Thanks Carla, and I appreciate finding out what’s going on in your part of the world. To wait so long for that longed-for rain and then to see the flowers blossoming as a result must make for a particularly sweet spring. Though your spring heat is probably our summer if we’re lucky 🙂

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  18. Andrea, you have perfectly captured the tug of war and fierceness that winter and spring have. I’ve noticed the weather is all over the board from late March snow to not needing a coat days. But spring is coming.

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  19. Andrea, it’s so true – just when we think we can’t take one more moment of winter, spring finally arrives. Lovely writing and photos, especially of the fritillary – I’ve never seen one, only in catalogues. Indeed, a symbol for your spring, so fitting.

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  20. Thank you for reminding me what’s to come – we just have crocus now. Even the forsythia is still shut tight. But soon…soon. And you remind me that once spring does suddenly sprout, I will be awash in wonder and tell myself, ‘the winter was worth it…for this.’ But during the harshness of cold and snow and ice…I always forget what’s to come. Sigh.
    Your photos and prose are glorious.

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  21. Spring is busting out all over here on the UK’s south coast, and thank goodness for it too. Winter was really weighing me down with its heavy pall. In my garden, I have assorted tulips (pink, crimson, yellow, and orange), daffodils and narcissi of various varieties, bluebells, primroses, violets, forget-me-knots and primulas. Plus various shrubs are in flower, such as the forsythia, ornamental pear, senna, skimmia, camellia and ceanothus. The downside, is that the weeds have started growing as well.

    I think this Spring has burst forth with extra abundance, or has my mood been lower than usual (probably the fault of politicians and the media)? Because of this, Spring seems extra beautiful in contrast. It is as if it’s saying “It is I, you should be focusing upon. I am the Spring. Forget all that other stuff”.

    I loved your post, as usual, Andrea. You always dig out truths and get to the root of the matter in a way that speaks to me. I guess that Nature has all the answers, if we listen to her.

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    • Thanks Sarah, it’s true that spring seems particularly beautiful and abundant – though you could be right about the negative feelings at the start of the year making it seem all the more beautiful! There are lots of flowers in bloom and I’ve seen my first butterflies in the last few days.

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  22. Beautifully captured, hon! Shock the system is totally true, but the vibrant rebirth all around is just so wonderfully whimsical. Unfortunately, I have major sinus issues this time of year, specifically with fending off migraines. I do what I can on the natural health front, but I am definitely ready for some steady temps and sunshine. Love seeing the cherry blossoms this time of year though…they can’t be beat! xo

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  23. I feel a sadness in your words, Andrea, but also a faint hope for the rebirth of the new season.. and I hope that spring is finding you well, with more smiles than anything else ❤

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  24. Andrea I am late to your spring party as usual. Oh how I love the treasure you found it is stunning and one I would savour too. I gear up for the colder months trying to keep moving and not go stagnate with the cold. Wish me luck, your post lifts me up today as I sit by the fire.
    Kath

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  25. Happy Springing (and Easter), Andrea.
    Must say, you dazzled me with the green look of your blog. New since I was here last before the ‘Big Blogging Break.’
    I thought for a terrible moment that you were going to mention ‘Spring Cleaning’ but thankfully you’re kind of Spring clean is the kind I love.

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  26. Funnily enough I also saw one (snake’s head fritillary) in a very unexpected place a couple of weeks ago in a SW London park. They are such beautiful fragile things. There was a place in Oxford that was known for them when I was a child – the meadow in Magdalen College and I always remember my mother talking about them while we went round Addison’s walk.

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  27. Andrea, this is a lovely, soulful post – a real gem and joy to read. You capture the variances of Spring brilliantly with ‘ It is as though the energy of the season can’t be contained and wants to spiral through all four seasons before settling on one.’ Whilst welcoming the beauty and stunning colours of nature the brightness can indeed be a bit of a shock. I love your photo of the fritillary flower and we have some in our garden, although often only two or three make it each year. They are incredibly delicate.How fascinating that they are called Lazarus bell.

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    • Thanks Annika, spring still hasn’t quite settled as I believe we’re expecting ‘wintry showers’ this week, but the cherry blossom is out now and I absolutely adore that. I was so pleased to have seen the snake’s head, they were called Lazarus Bells as they apparently resemble the bells that lepers used to wear – I do love the evocative names of some plants.

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