The night of February 28th to March 1st was very stormy indeed. I found it hard to sleep for the noise of the slates rattling and the house being buffeted by the wind. In Aberdeen I was very used to sleeping through just this kind of racket, but it’s not such a common occurrence where we live in Glasgow. Yesterday in church, there were such heavy showers that the noise on the roof nearly drowned out the sermon! And, as is the way in spring, there were also sunny intervals:
Do you see the plant behind the primrose that looks like clumps of grass? I’m not quite sure what it will be. A neighbour gave it to me, saying that the lady who owned our house for 61 years before we did, had it in her/our garden, and had given her a cutting years ago. So it has come back, and I hope it will be happy.
Are we in spring, or winter still? The spring equinox isn’t for three weeks yet, but the meteorological year counts spring as beginning March 1st. It’s an in-between time, that’s for certain. In her March 2nd essay, Katharine Smith wrote: “Waking to what looks, from the window, like a reasonable day, reminding myself that this really is March and we should be heading for spring, I hurry through a watered-down version of essential indoor jobs and make for the garden… Scanning it today I smile ruefully as I look in vain for a rewarding sign of anything green. … This is the time when, every year, I wonder if I’ll ever get things to grow again in any sort of order, yet, somehow it is achieved.” (p. 51)
Here in the lowlands of Glasgow, we do have green in the garden, and even little primroses and narcissi, as you can see. There are also lots of dead leaves piled in various corners.
She goes on to write, “I very much hope, too, that some of the young people who live here now may get the gardening fever. It has to be a fever, I think, and an incurable one at that…” I agree that it’s important to give children a taste of gardening. But I will say that my own early experiences with gardening were extremely off-putting. I spent many hours working in the garden as a child, but my father was a hard task-master and his love of tomato plants left me cold. I did enjoy gardening with my Granny, however. I could see that it was a joy for her. It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I planted my own garden, with the things that I longed to grow, and it was then that I began to discover the thrill of gardening. And for me, happily, it has been a fever that hasn’t lifted.
Katharine Stewart’s foray into her garden on March 2nd was short-lived. She stretched some black plastic bin liners over a stretch of earth, weighing them down with stones, in order to begin to warm the ground for spring planting. “The rain really has an edge to it now, coming almost horizontally, in wind-chilled bursts. My morning thoughts and hopes of spring are dashed. Of course, our seasons don’t go by the calendar, but by whatever is brewing up in Siberia. I have to acknowledge this was a false start. There will be more to come.” (p. 52)
False starts: the encapsulation of spring, it seems to me. We are so impatient for warmth, growth, and new life. We are given glimpses that are both hugely satisfying and tantalising, so that we are left wanting more. And that is the nature of spring! It’s a test of patience and faith. Is it any wonder the early Christian church fixed the season of Lent and Easter in the springtime? Yesterday Tilly and I went out into the back garden, me to collect leaves from the lawn and Tilly to chew on grass. The sky blackened and there was a sudden, thunderous downpouring of hailstones. Tilly dashed inside ahead of me, and stood in the porch looking out, aghast. Like Katharine Stewart, Tilly and I retreated into the kitchen. Tilly didn’t join me in having a cup of tea, but I certainly enjoyed mine!