Even though it has been cold and occasionally wet over the last few days, I sense the end of winter and the first glimpse of an approaching spring. It is not one single thing that leads me to think that winter will soon be behind us but a combination of small things; an extra warmth in the sun’s rays, the growing number of birds in song, including a solitary Blackbird, and buds that are swelling on the trees. While February can tease, with false starts and broken promises, March feels sufficiently far into the year to offer something more robust.
It has been an odd start to the year, the celandine bright in flower but the snowdrops yet to appear in many of the haunts where I would see them in other years. Will spring all come at once, with a rush of blooms? That’s what some observers are suggesting.
Of course, the end of winter does not mean the arrival of spring; there is no instantaneous change from one to the other. There is this period of in-between – this no man’s land of mixed days; some bright, clear and filled with growing warmth, while others remain dull, cloud-covered and hang with a clawing damp that gets into the bones. What does matter though, what shapes these days, is the knowledge that spring will come, that days will feel longer, that I’ll be able to walk home from work in the light. It is these things that offer hope, lift my mood and fill me with a sense of expectation.
To suggest that other creatures feel the same sense of expectation would be to anthropomorphise but maybe the changing day length, that extra warmth in the sun’s rays, is triggering hormonal changes that parallel my shifting mood. Many of the creatures with which we share this landscape will be responding to seasonal cues, initiating changes that trigger flowering or the establishment of breeding territories. The question I have been asking myself is whether I am responding to these cues in the same way or whether I am responding to their resultant effects in other creatures? It is in these periods of transition, as the seasons shift from one to another, that I feel most closely in tune with the world around me. The feelings that I experience at these times serve to remind me that I am also part of this wider web of diversity, that I too am a creature responding to the environment and the subtle nuances that mark the turning of the seasons. It won’t suddenly be spring tomorrow but I sense that it is approaching and over the coming weeks I too shall slip from one season into another.