The daffodils are out here in Scotland, and for most of us in the northern hemisphere, this is the flower of Spring and the daffodils trumpet out the song that Spring has Sprung. And ‘Daffy–down-Dilly has come to town, with a yellow petticoat, and a pretty green gown’.
And In Robert Browning’s words:
The year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in his Heaven—
All’s right with the world!
Spring, the season of phenomenally inexorable, yet spontaneous, renewal, regeneration and new beginnings, with a sudden bursting out of fresh energy, after the carefully considered and controlled conservations of winter. A birthing of new life, most clearly witnessed in nature with the fluorescent bright green buds bursting forth, with a confidence of being sustained and fed by plentiful showers of rain and days of warming sun. And always this growth, must, by nature, be different to that of last year. Nothing exactly repeats itself, always the growth is different, and that is what is so exciting, so astonishing:
‘Every spring is the only spring, a perpetual astonishment’
(British author, Ellis Peters)
But I also feel a sense of tension, illustrated perhaps by this quote from American musician, Henry Collins:
‘In winter, I plot and plan. In spring, I move’.
And there is an urgency about this having to move, as our inner rhythm tunes into nature’s rhythm, carrying us along, whether we’re ready or not. I was having a conversation with an artist friend this week about this very topic; we even brought it up simultaneously. We wish Spring would just wait for a few weeks for us to get used to the idea, or more to the point, the feelings it brings in its wake. And it’s absurd, isn’t it? But what can be going on here? Well, she and I always have our projects going on, and projects are safer in the being developed phases, in that cosy ‘in progress’ zone. But when you finish, you must put that finished work ‘out there’, because the process of its creation is now at an end. It’s simply over. In a way every work of art has a spring, summer, autumn and winter – where you cultivate and feed the phase of delicate spring growth, then allow it free reign to flourish and bloom, bear fruits, then maybe you need to prune it or modify it during the winter reappraisal phase, but ultimately you have to set the seeds for new enterprises. You must let the old creative work go, you must set it free, and move towards fresh new ideas, to give them, in turn, your all. So there is something deeply symbolic about Spring in this context, and it’s useful to recognise this. Yes, it’s a renewal of the spirit for all, but it’s also particularly a kind of renewal for the creative spirit, and it might be this underlying association for my friend and I that is coming to the fore here. But ready or not, it’s upon us and we must welcome it for bringing its changes. As we all know, there is nothing so certain in life as change. And Spring reminds us of this, together with its inherent message of potential, promise and hope.
And then there’s the cleansing effects of Spring. The sun shows up and the rains wash. Why else the expression ‘Spring clean?’ In the dark houses of the past, the sun pierced through the grubby window panes and pointed out the dirt and dust of a stagnating interior. And spring cleaning was born, with a beating of all those mats and endless washing. And there is a sense of us wanting to be refreshed too, in our close environment and within ourselves. Another friend I was talking to yesterday said she felt like she should ‘ring some changes’ in her life. She felt she was getting into a rut over certain regular activities, and I’m pretty sure this feeling is very common at springtime, that it’s no accident that it crops up now. So here we have another aspect of what I’m going to call ‘The Spring Effect’ – the season of the new.
But for me…
When I’ve done my first bike ride of the year, thinking, I really must get fitter…
When I’m able to sit in the garden, in the spotlight of the sun, with a cappuccino and a book…
When I can enjoy pottering around the flower beds, and listen to the house sparrows twittering in the hedges in the lane…
When I can tramp the fields, and watch the breezes skim over the tips of newly grown grass, and they glitter in the sunlight…
Then that is when Spring really starts for me.
How about you?
(Daffy-down-Dilly lyrics from a nursery rhyme by Nathaniel Hawthorne, illustration by my favourite children’s illustrator, Hilda Boswell)