We had such a joyful time sharing our thoughts and memories about spring at our Zoom meeting on Easter Saturday morning. We hope you enjoy seeing our photographs and reading our writing inspired by the session. If so, we’d love to read comments and reflections from you too.
I love the spring, the feelings and the memories it brings. My partner and I have shared some wonderful early holidays in Crete, Cyprus and Spain: walking in places we’d find too hot later in the year, along coasts and on hillsides, seeing orchards of apple and almond trees in blossom and cyclamen growing wild.
Since 2012, when we bought our camper van (then seventeen years old), we’ve experienced the special magic of waking up to birdsong in the Spring countryside on our first trip of the year. We don’t need to stay far from home to experience stunning views across hills, with lambs in the fields.
This year, as during last year’s first locked down Spring, I’ve really appreciated the daffodils, tulips, camelia and magnolia flowers in Chorlton’s gardens, parks and open spaces.
But I’m so looking forward to our first camper van trip soon. It’ll be worth being chilly at night to wake up right there in the countryside. Before we were allowed to leave the city last July, as lockdown eased, the lambs had already grown up!
The taste of spring
I open my heavy purple velvet curtains and find myself awash with the rays from the morning sun. I feel the heat on the window pane as I trace my initials. I remember my favourite spring dress that has been gathering dust at the back of the wardrobe. I begin to feel excited at the prospect of being able to wear it again after such a long time.
It’s my favourite dress. I gaze into my wardrobe and claw my way past the browns, greys and blacks of my winter clothes. I get really giddy as I reach the transparent suit bag that hold my dress and I grab it longingly.
I pull the long zip down and the bottom of the dress bounces out of the bag. It smells of spring and boasts some amazing colours across the fabric. Flowers peep through glades of grass and display a beautiful array of bright yellow daffodils. The bluebells are what I notice next as they form a blanket of the bluest of blues, their heads bobbed in the picturesque scene created on my dress.
My dress was made of the thinnest cotton and kept you cool on the hottest of days. The hemline rested comfortably just above my knee. (A sensible length) I hear my mother’s voice although she is no longer with us. (Almost 8 years now). A tear drops silently on the dress nestling on the petal of a purple tulip but the crowning glory of my dress are the sleeves. They were enormous and bell shaped showing off the design in the most amazing way. I have seen bell sleeves and trousers in the 70s but nothing came close to these sleeves.
I start to reminisce, and think of the picnics I have had while wearing my dress. I picture the lemon-coloured gingham table cloth laden with a banquet fit for a queen and made by my own brown hands. I gaze at the meat selection. The Gala pie (Bridget’s favourite) sits on the corner of the table cloth temptingly. I look at the bowl of salad sat next to a luscious basket of home-made breads. The rye bread lies precariously, balancing on some wholemeal cobs and tucked in between the Jamaican bread (hardo.)
Oh! I just love the taste of spring.
Along with early autumn, spring is probably my favourite season. With luck, we have bright and sunny days, a promise of better weather to come, but not yet too hot to feel uncomfortable. I’m not a huge fan of hot and sticky summers, but late spring in particular is often perfect for me. Sometimes a frosty morning and a spectacular sunrise leads to just such a bright and sunny day.
As well as the universal conversational topic of the weather, spring signifies a fresh beginning to me. Nature revives itself after the ravages of winter, leaves on trees again, buds almost overnight blooming into flowers, young animals being born, and the promise of being able to get outside and breathe fresh air without needing quite as many layers of heavy clothes, or alternatively having to lather on layers of sun cream. Perfect. No wonder that so many poets have written about spring and its delights. For me, spring signifies the start of the year as January with its dark mornings and evenings never does.
Apart from the delights of nature, one of the more prosaic delights of spring for me is the arrival of Easter! Not governed by a religious adherence to the constraints of Lent, I try to follow a rule of not eating chocolate during Lent. More as a sort of self-discipline. For a chocolate lover like me, it is a real test of determination and I like to feel virtuous if I manage the whole of Lent without succumbing to the temptation, and without making concessions such as the ‘chocolate biscuits don’t count’ variety. Therefore, Easter Sunday comes with the release from self-imposed obligations and the excitement of being able to eat chocolate again. If it is a sunny Easter Sunday morning, I can smell the chocolate in the room before I even unwrap the eggs. There is nothing quite like the chocolate of Easter eggs, with or without a filling of loose chocolates. Fortunately, I have kind family who buy me an Easter egg, so I don’t even have to resort to buying them for myself. This year a good friend bought me a chocolate rabbit wearing a blue covid safety mask. It is almost too delightful to break into but I am sure I will overcome that!
To see the spring blossom and bulbs emerge after a long, cold winter is such a joy to me as I gaze through my window or walk round my local streets and parks.
I remember looking for signs of spring as a small child. The first precious wild flowers, coltsfoot, lesser celandine, wood anemones. Watching the leaves of the horse chestnut emerge from the large “sticky buds”, seeing dancing lamb’s tail catkins, silky pussy willow. Looking in the local stream for frogspawn and waiting for the tadpoles to emerge and develop. Watching roots and shoots appear from runner beans trapped in a jam jar held in place by blotting paper on the nature table at school, or watching cress growing on cotton wool with no soil, just water in an empty egg shell.
During my first teaching post with young children with learning difficulties I was very ably supported by a very experienced talented Polish Nursery Nurse. Each Easter time she would bring in six beautifully decorated blown hens’ eggs for the children to look at. Each one had been painted with different delicate wax pattern then dyed rich shades of blue, red and yellow. Exquisite, treasured family heirlooms from her homeland. We would then encourage the youngsters to make their own patterns with wax crayons on cut out cardboard egg shapes before painting over them to decorate a bare tree branch, before they proudly took them home for the Easter holidays as an Easter card.
For many years I have created an Easter display in my front room window with a bare branch decorated with eggs collected over the years, to cheer people up as they pass by.
This season of the year is one of new growth and hope anew. Each year the advent of spring is revealed as the first tiny sprigs of blossom appear on the trees outside my windows. The original isolated flecks of white which could almost be mistaken as snowflakes will soon merge and the trees will soon have a full-blown coating.
This blaze of white is in turn replaced by little green shoots foretelling the rich foliage of mid-summer. Metrolink planted these overhead line compatible trees so as to lessen the impact of the sound of trains on the adjacent properties and to offset the removal of a number of older, larger trees which were a threat to the line’s superstructure. They are a recurring indicator of the changing seasons.
However, this year the arrival of spring and a much-needed symbol of awakening hope in what is continuing to be a challenging time has been these flowers growing in this little patch of garden right by my front door. The bulbs from which they have emerged were a gift, in the dark days of last November, from a local community group, Manchester Urban Diggers” and Manchester City Council’s “BUZZ” Manchester Health and Wellbeing Service. I planted them more in hope than expectation on a burst of energy before the first onset of winter and I think that I have been well rewarded for the effort!
The pride and pleasure I’ve derived from this garden can be gauged by the number of times I have posted updates on its progress to my Facebook page!
I can never decide when spring starts. Part of me (the part that is sick of cold and darkness) wants to announce it when the first snowdrop shows its face. But that is much too early. The clue is in the name.
I’m far too impatient to wait for daffodils. It is definitely well into spring when you see daffodils in bloom, and if any horticulturalists, meteorologists or astronomers want to dispute that, I am not interested. I may not know anything about plants, but I know that waiting for daffodils to declare it’s spring is like waiting until after Christmas dinner to open your presents.
I’ve heard something about the first cuckoo call, but I don’t trust it and I’m not even sure what it’s about. I’m pretty sure it happens in spring, but is it early, or is it a sign of summer coming? We should expect no better of cuckoos than to sneak in among the signs of spring where they don’t belong. The whole cuckoo business is just something for vicars to write to the newspaper about and I will not stand for it.
Easter is too late, and Pancake Day mostly too early, but it doesn’t matter really: they’re based on the moon, and whatever else the moon may get up to it isn’t responsible for the seasons. The moon doesn’t even have its own seasons, so why would we trust it with ours?
What about the equinox? The day the balance tips from darkness to light. It’s certainly elegant. And it feels nice and solid: it barely moves, and not only is it natural, we could keep using it even if all life was blasted from the Earth. Which would spoil spring somewhat, but seems increasingly like something we should be prepared for. It’s too late for me, though. I’m itching for spring by the end of February. I can’t wait for the 20th.
‘Meteorological spring’ starts on March 1st, which ought to suit me, but it sounds like something a committee has sat down and decided on, and frankly I’d sooner put the moon in charge. British Summer Time is way too late; the clue is in the name.
I really don’t need to know when spring starts. I’m not green-fingered enough to plant; I’m neither fashionable nor organised enough to need to change my wardrobe. The cacophony of family birthdays that fills my April catches me by surprise every year regardless. I might as well adopt a groundhog and call it a day. The start of spring is just the moment I decide I can trust the world not to stay dark forever.
So I’ve decided it’s crocuses. I like crocuses.