March 1st, St David’s Day, was marked by cold, stiff winds aiming straight for us and by lofty, bright blueness with thin, white clouds speeding by, taking notice of neither bird nor beast. Sunshine accompanying this energetic rushing, on meeting skin, was warm, encouraging and energizing. White tops on waves sparkled and glinted, calling out to one another in their headlong rush to the shore, and as they landed, they whipped up fizzy delights, Italian cappuccino foam, Cornish clotted cream lather and bright, McFlurry-white froth. Dune and machair grasses nodded, undulating in time to the music of spring. What a day!
And then, above the whistling of wind, wave and grassland, came the joyous announcements of skylarks, rising and singing as though it was the last day of life on earth. Unrestrained and bursting with energy, the first skylarks of the year. What brave and doughty little birds to pitch their lungs, hearts, minds and voices against the roar of sea and wind! I wonder what excitement and thrill is felt by other creatures on hearing this choir, for I was overcome and laughed out loud, calling out, though my tune was broken up and scattered by the squally airs. I felt the oncoming of spring!
Across sodden croft fields though, in spite of the seaside exultation of larks and my own euphoria, grassland is still bleached and forms a squishy mat overlying and protecting the tiny denizens of the soil deeps. And now, peeping through, here and there, are bright green shards, as new growth begins to pierce last year’s vegetative mesh and tangle. Slowly, gradually, steadily, the pale carpet of winter is being absorbed by bacteria and fungi and assimilated, adding new nutrients to the soil. A sign of spring, this consumption and incorporation? A sign of spring, these brave, new, vivid swords!
Two days later and just as quickly as spring called out, winter plays a fickle trick. Biting wind and snow have returned to harry us all; green blades are pinioned, the matted carpet becomes protector and shield, holding up a coverlet of white crystals and glistening beads, and thus, in death, defends life’s precious stirrings below. Though strong and booming, winds do not silence busy, little garden birds in their bare and thorny hedges, no preserving blanket there; and with such little food available, how is such song-full energy renewed? Not from the sun, it is too diffuse, there is not yet enough cadmium-yellow radiance. Is it because their tiny minds recognise the nearby vernal signs? Perhaps the intermittent snatches of warmth and light penetrate through feathered costumes into blood vessels, and at the deepest cellular level, within the helical bonds, a chance glinting of sun’s energy switches on some unfathomable cipher; lungs inflate, throats open and out pour songs heralding the coming of spring.
Have we become so removed from the smell, scent and sensuousness of earth, of life and signs of Nature’s changes, encased as we are in electro-magnetic webs and artificial constructs, enamoured of our gadgets and dependent upon the armour plating of vehicular carapace and synthetic costume, sustained by our needy connectedness to each other, that we miss the subtle signs of spring deep, deep within our own selves? Step outside then, into the wilds, and turn those switches on! Spring is coming!