The cemetery is at its most luminous in late spring and autumn, the key hinges of the year. In autumn, the cemetery hums with the colours of turning leaves. But now, in late May, it brims with the lace of cow parsley and a tide of bluebells. Spring has not come quietly. It has burst, all of a sudden. The cow parsley is so tall that the graves hide amongst it, or only peek over the blooms. The vegetation has the untidy lushness of late summer. The energy is playful and busy. A robin strikes something, a snail perhaps, on the edge of a grave, crows caw and rattle, blackbirds sing.
Hawthorn is in full blossom, leafy tresses daubed in clotted cream. Horse chestnut flowers thrust upwards like snowy Christmas trees. Sunlight plays between the trees, pooling in clearings and shafting through the canopy. Light pours through the windows of the chapel, so that, seen from the outside, it is a transparent arch of illumination. Scores of tiny flies dance in the air and hoverflies hover under the trees, seemingly motionless, like tiny baubles catching the light. Most of the abundant dandelions have finished flowering, and there are waves of clocks like grey lollipops. So much potential, the seeds of next year already on the wing.
My creativity has followed the pattern of the spring. Low key at first, it has now burst open. Like the landscape, I’m enjoying a creative spurt. My novel and stories are out for submission, dispersed like dandelion seeds, in that sweet moment of possibility when something good might happen to them. I have revisited the first novel I wrote, revising it to correct those niggles I have never been quite happy with. There is another story on the go and I have joined a writer’s circle. At times like these writing feels easy. Words fall into place and stories present no barriers to being told. Fallow periods and the panic of creation is forgotten.
On a rare rainy day, I see my first swallows, two of them, darting and swooping over a roof top, switch-backing from one direction to another. I can’t see any insects but they have obviously found something to hunt. In the dene, the burn chatters and gurgles past miniature forests of yellow flag, thistles, cow parsley and purple comfrey. The avenue of lindens is so lush it has become a tunnel of leaves. There are swallows here too, but only a couple. And more flies. A particularly delicate creature flutters up into the trees before me, slowly, on spectral lacy wings.
There is so much to see that I don’t know where to look, so much born and being born, so much potential. And yet life is fragile too. In the park, early one morning, I witness a vicious scrap between crows. The two resident sentries of the park noisily mob another close to the tree where they are nesting. They fight, beak to feather, then resort to dive-bombing the stranger, swooping so close I hear the crack of wings across its back. But it is too late, the interloper has stolen an egg and proceeds to devour it, one small life that won’t be born.
Among so much growth, it is hard to imagine this fragility, yet there are concerns that this year there have been fewer insects, fewer migrating birds. When the rain falls, the tiny creatures disappear; when the sun comes out, there they are again in their hundreds. I wonder where they go when the sun hides its face. Perhaps they are poised, just like inspiration, waiting for the conditions to burst into life.