Walking along Half Moon Lane in Herne Hill this afternoon to see an Open Garden (beautiful; full of hellebores, forget-me-nots, wallflowers and daffodils), I recognised the sense of relief and well-being I felt last year, when I took these photos of some magnolias in Kew Gardens. See? So pleased was I to be in some sunshine after what I thought was a long, dreary winter that I pointed my camera directly at the sun to make sure it was real.
The date on these pics is March 15, which marks this spring out to be nearly a month later than last year, although, to be fair, some magnolias have already been out for a week or two. Having grown up with almost perpetual warmth and sunshine, this winter has felt like an eternity.
But before I get het up on dates and figures and what we think plants and sunshine ought to be doing at certain times of year, read this lovely piece from A Single Swallow, by Horatio Clare:
Like birds, we take our cues from seasons, from the phases of the moon and the movements of the sun. But we have formalised our calculations into a rigid but invisible web of grids, of time and space, which theoretically tell us when and where we are. The problem is that though there are many repeating mathematical patterns in nature and cosmology, the rhythms of the earth fluctuate outside the calculations we have designed to contain it…We talk of early springs and late summers as though the seasons were somehow out of joint, while it would perhaps be more logical to consider that it is our neat calendar of hours, days and weeks, with their chain of ‘seasonal’ festivals that is inaccurate.
(I’ve just spent about twenty minutes trying to find that piece which I read last night at about 1am, noted and then neglected to mark on the page. It’s on page 280, if you’re interested.)
He has a point, hasn’t he? Clare refers chiefly to swallows and their migration, which he follows through Africa from Cape Town to rural Wales, but I think it has bearing on plants, too.
Still, it doesn’t diminish my pleasure at having just cause to walk bare legged, wear sunglasses and drink ginger beer in the middle of the afternoon once more.
PS Being close to the flight path to Heathrow, I’m so enjoying the peace and quiet of not having the drone of aeroplane engines overhead at all times of day and night. That said, besides those travellers who really do have places to be, I can’t help feeling for fruit, cut-flower and vegetable farmers whose livelihoods are held ransom by a volcano on the other side of the world – and by what some would say is an untenable economic system, the vulnerability of which is now laid bare. The Guardian has an interesting piece on the subject here