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.