Has a season ever been more heralded? More sought for sign of its appearance?
Usually, I’m an Autumn girl. I’m a sucker for deciduous trees aflame with colours. Crunchy leaves to stomp on along the sidewalk. I was spoiled at my alma mater, JMU, nestled in the Shenandoah Valley between the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains full of the most glorious display of autumn foliage. Blue skies, crisp but warm sunshine-y days. The distant drum of the marching band prepping for a big game floating over a Saturday morning. I love Autumn for revelling in the memories of warm summertime pursuits while feeling ready for that shift to cooler weather— blowing in to clear out the cobwebs before settling in for winter. I love how you even get an extra hour of the season thanks to day lights savings and “falling” back an hour. I love the sense of a new year beginning. My internal calendar is always calibrated to September as the start of a new year linked to all my years of school, and now, my children’s. The prospect of having a whole new year to learn and grow and make new friends and reconnect with old ones—to share new experiences makes me tremble with excitement. I even like the autumns in England with Guy Fawkes nights of bonfires and fireworks that you don’t have to wait for as the evenings close in much quicker in November than on a Fourth of July. Mulled wine and sausages on a roll seal the deal. And cooking the first turkey of the year (yes, my family keeps up our American traditions even in jolly ‘ole England from whence the Pilgrims came). Autumn time is family time and there is the excitement of watching Skyler play rugby on the pitch. Even in the thrashing rains, we are lucky to have a warm, dry home to return to, shower up in, after cheering him on the pitch. A place to partake in autumn harvest feasts wrapped up with apple and blackberry crumbles and pumpkin pies. I feel like after the structureless summer, it is nice to incorporate some schedule into our lives. A return to the familiar. A touchstone for the rest of the year.
That said, there’s no denying the joys of summer…and if we are lucky the basking in the sunshine and warmth. Swimming in the sea. Stargazing at night. My family, Jennifer and her boys can attest to my absolute obsession with laying on my back to look up into infinity and beyond looking for shooting stars to pass. I love being able to shout, “Did you see that one?”. Summer has wishes made and fulfilled. An annual trip for an escape, perhaps from real life, to journey to a new land. Without the confines of the school schedule, summer has the holiday time for sharing adventures and grabbing the moments to travel, see the world and the people you miss during the rest of the year. You can fit it all in in the lazy, hazy days of summer. Barefoot walking in warm dawns out to pick up the paper from the drive or have a cup of coffee on the porch listening to the cicadas on a hot day start their chchchchcht symphony. Bold geraniums in terracotta pots thriving in the heat. Seafood at the Jersey shore dunked in Old Bay seasoning and clear-out-your-sinuses-horseradished cocktail sauce, shrimp and crabs from Dad’s Beaufort dock or pulled pork from Hog Heaven in Debordieu. Barbecues on the Isles of Scilly, Camber Sands, and our backyard. Gin and Tonics galore. Summer hums with bike rides, sparklers and freedom. Fresh garden vegetables. The longest day of the year.
Winter for me is saved by Christmas and all the other wonderful festivals of light that brighten the dark short days that draw in. I’ve never been a big skier (Nick’s arthritic knees have never allowed for it), but I am as enamoured with the white stuff as Gilmore Girls’ Lorelei celebrating the big feather flakes when they arrive every once in a blue moon in Kent. Growing up for part of my childhood in the suburbs of Chicago, when it snowed in October and we didn’t see the grass until April, I reckon I’ve had my fair share of the stuff. Still, I love the days off of school that a snow storm grants. They always feel like a little gift shared by the world pausing, dare I say frozen, under the blanket of snow. Marshmallows and hot chocolate snuggle in nicely with the duvet and a movie by the fire. Hearty slow cooked stews and annual Christmas tastes we only eat at the holiday time of year…Judy’s Sausage Balls and Jerry’s Good Stuff Cocktails at our Christmas Party hit the spot. Along with sugar and snowflake cookies, gingerbread men, and coconut ice with candy canes to clear the palette.
But now, it seems like no matter where I go, what I do or listen to I am hearing the collective yearning for Spring. The flush of birdsong, shared sightings of particularly audacious displays of daffodils, primroses, and snowdrops. Buds and blossoms abounding on trees and shrubs. On Facebook or Instagram, the evening news or BBC radio updates, the podcasts, adverts in my emails for new clothing promotions, suggested playlists on Spotify, conversations on WhatsApp, Houseparty, Zoom, or at the one place I can go out into the world, the grocery store…Spring. Spring. Spring.
Only two more days and it will officially be here! Hooray!
Snoopy dance with the heart of a Welsh Rugby player and you may go some way to physically express the sense of enthusiasm in the air! This Spring is singing and glowing and rejoicing and reminding us there is much to celebrate in this refreshing time of the year. There’s a new palette of colours in town and we are ready for something to change. It is tangible this feeling this feeling that we all want to see a seasonal shift. Not surprising this year how keen we are for spring.
Oh, and the way I see it, we are the bulbs in all of this. Yup, you heard that right. We are those brown onion paper-y nuggets of life waiting to becoming something beautiful. Full of scent or vibrant colour, we are promise and potential in a package. And boy, are we strong. We bear the dark of being buried and alone in the cold, months left in our own company and still we have the audacity to shoot bright, straight blades of green out of deadened ground of winter to emerge and blossom. Against all sense— with pending late snows, ice storms or even devious squirrels trying to forge for food — we come out in purples, pure white, yellows and every shade of the rainbow tulips. Popcorn displays of forsythia, pussywillows, and hyacinth…a bundle of the season that can be gathered and held in your hand. Sunshine and hope embodied and arranged in a vase to grace a home and a heart.
We are bulbs and we are blossoms.
We can spread and propagate and beautify our bleak surrounding.
Don’t doubt us. Even in this season of seemingly endless hibernation of lockdowns and quarantines, of waiting for the world to be vaccinated.
Never fear. It’s in the air. Come what may. We are bulbs and we are blossoms, as sure as the Earth is spinning on it’s axis making it’s journey around the sun. The spring warmth is coming and with it birdsong. The longer days of light. This last stretch, this push through the upper crust of hard soil. The time to gather and breathe in the open air, sway in the sunshine without restraint…is coming.
The leaden earth of this long winter will not hold us down.
Now keep the faith, be your best flower, and unfurl.