Although I am a Yorkshire lass, these days I live in the ‘soft south’ where the weather is mild and the winters tend to be less businesslike than the ones I used to know. There has been just the lightest dusting of snow, barely enough to notice, yet apart from an odd day of hope, the damp grisaille still lingers. So, as I drove north for the weekend, it was with surprise and delight that I saw that spring has begun in good earnest.
It started slowly, with hazel catkins swaying in the breeze. They are always amongst the first signs of spring and, although I was glad to see them, I thought them little more than early heralds of things yet to come. Although odd specks of colour mark the presence of brave blooms that have opened in defiance of the damp and although the birds are very busy, the skies still held little hope of warmth.
But, as I drove north, crossing county after county, the sun came out for a while and the landscape changed from dark to bright. The patches of colour grew, lighting the sheltered shadows and by the time I reached Derbyshire, naked winter was cloaked in jewels that reflected the colours of the pale, golden sun.
Shoots, red and green, peep above the dark earth. Crocuses and daffodils are already in bloom and great drifts of snowdrops glisten on shady banks. Wallflowers unfurl delicately crumpled petals in the safe shelter of old stones, adding their perfume to air fragrant with possibility.
Fat buds are breaking open on magnolia and camellia, promising a flamboyance yet to come. Soft pink blossoms grace rain-blackened branches… spring is only just beginning to flex her petalled wings, but you can feel the world waking to new life. It is not that spring had come to the north alone, but what had been hidden from my eyes in the south was now made visible.
I drove for hours, south to north along the back roads, between hedgerows that gave way to the dry-stone walls of home. It was as if I was journeying from one world to another, from the gentle sorrow of winter to the new life and rebirth of spring. As I drove, our friend passed also from this life and into the Light and it seemed almost as if the spring had awakened in her honour. Like spring, she too was golden.
It is not until the sun has once more warmed the earth that the vivid shades appear, only to soften once more with the bronzing of the leaves in autumn before paling into winter. Winter passes quietly, in muted tones and the very first flowers of spring wear always the soft colours of dawn and the pale gold of a reborn sun. The cycling seasons of the year reflect the journey of the sun and the earth is adorned with the colours of light.