The first delicate greenery has appeared. Hawthorn leaves unfurl on slender branches. Fresh nettles and cow parsley push through the soil. Winston enjoys eating the surfeit of young cleavers. The ivy looks ragged and the majority of branches are still bare, but change is afoot.
We haven’t been to the dene since before the last few storms and we walk into a broken landscape. The fallen tree at the edge of the bowling green is still there, taped and coned off. But this is only the beginning. The already-damaged rowan near the entrance is a blasted trunk. A sycamore lies prone behind it, broken off at the base. A smaller tree lies to one side.
I notice that my favourite tree is in full blossom, but it doesn’t look quite right. When we get closer, I see that it too is broken. I’m devastated by the loss. It is the first tree to flower in the spring, with long tumbling blossoms trailing the ground. Another mature tree lies fallen near by, its limbs crusted in lichen. The wind has torn through the upper dene and left devastation behind it.
We walk under the bridge. Beyond, the dene is calm. The burn slowly trickles. I see occasional movement as small fish dart below the surface. A wood pigeon sits in a blackthorn tree, feeding on the buds. Daffodil shoots have appeared as usual beneath the two birches on the edge of the stream. A swathe of purple crocuses bloom in their spot at the end of the linden avenue. There are violets in the hedgerows and the daffodils by the pond are already in flower. Blackthorns are in blossom.
The pond is quiet. Two male mallards swim lethargically. A gull keeps pace with a mallard. A pair of crows forage at the edge. I can hear tits and a robin high up in the trees. But one of the weeping willows that fringe the pond is weeping a little too much. A break high up makes it lean closer to the water.
The trees aren’t the only things going into this spring a little more broken than they were two years ago. I struggle with a persistent low mood that I can’t shake off. Motivating myself to walk further than the park at the end of the road is hard. I tire of a routine that is little more than work and home and back again. And yet bad news stories of war, soaring prices and poverty remind me how lucky I am.
Spring equinox is tricky. We’re propelled forward, from darkness into light, from lack into plenty, trying to find our balance while losing an hour on the way. I always forget how unsettling this turning can be. The equinox brings bees and celandine. It brings gentle mists and grass shimmering with diamonds of melted frost. Seagulls canoodling on chimneys and great tits fluting their call in the canopy. A mini-forest of saplings planted in the park. It brings light, tickling my eyes as I lie in bed, calling me to get up and enjoy the day. I follow its call.