One of the curious things about writing for magazines, as I do, is that you will inevitably experience a kind of virtual life three or four months before the fact, in order to accommodate print production schedules. This means that in summer, while kith and kin are ensconced in one of these, gin and tonic in hand, in our heads we magazine writers will already be celebrating the perfect Christmas, complete with happy families, a magical tree and the gifts you’ve always wanted.
I was reminded of this yesterday afternoon when, on a rare weekend at home, I walked through the fields that surround the village in which I live. The birds were out in force and some time over the past fortnight blossom had appeared, as had daffodils, hyacinths, muscari and forsythia. ‘So this is what spring is really like,’ I said to myself, absurdly pleased about being outdoors without a coat and feeling real warmth on my shoulders.
Some months ago, around Christmas in fact, as snow blew down from the north (and the east and the west), flights were grounded and any excursion outdoors involved warming a cold bottom against the Aga – ok, ok, the radiator – I had imagined everything about yesterday and, indeed, had yearned for it. In my head I’d inhaled the scent of washing dried on the line, heard the robin, sentinel on a bough of hawthorn springing into leaf, felt the twitch of fingers aching for an allotment and had ridden a step-through bike from the most beautiful bike shop in Great Britain. It had worked. My work looked fine. But there is nothing like the real thing; nothing quite like proper sunshine on your shoulders.
Of course the demands of work mean that June and July are already here but for this season, this spring, twee though it may sound, I shall endeavour practise the pleasure of being in the moment. No longing; no wishing to be anywhere else; here is good.
* I had nothing to do with this image but use it courtesy of the International Bulb Flower Centre, a collective body that was established in 1925 to promote Dutch bulbs around the world. If you are thinking of growing a few bulbs yourself, do have a look.