It’s no wonder they call it Spring. All of a sudden things are springing up out of nowhere, as if someone’s put nature on fast forward without telling me.
How come I never noticed the snowdrops until they were in flower? They can’t have just appeared overnight fully formed. And did those daffodil shoots, now four inches high in my front garden, really pop up like a jack-in-the-box the minute my back was turned?
It’s not just flowers that have been miraculously materialising. When I took my daughter to her tap-dancing class yesterday afternoon, two sisters in her class had gained a baby brother since last week – and I hadn’t even noticed that their mother was pregnant. It’s bad enough that the weekly tap-dancing classes seem to take place every other day. To miss a whole human gestation period is beyond the pale.
At this rate, I had better make sure I get out and about in the next few days, or before I know it, the wild garlic and primroses will have come and gone. Those unlikely roadside bedfellows are my favourite sign of spring. I’d hate to miss my annual treat of driving down the country lanes with open windows, invigorated by the pungent spring air. And I can’t get by without seeing that gorgeous blue carpet that will be unrolling in local woodlands any day now. The delicate scent transports me back to the spring of my childhood, when no classroom was complete without a jamjar crammed with bluebells on every windowsill. It doesn’t make sense to me that in the days when we were all allowed to pick them to our hearts content, there was never any shortage of wild flowers.
Blink, and I’ll miss the violet haze of flax that briefly rests, gossamer-like, over too few fields round here. It’s such a welcome respite from the garish, choking rape that seems to take over the countryside for a few weeks each spring, like a horrible bully that wants everything its own way.
In no time at all I’ll be wondering whether I’m too late to admire the sumptuous pinks and mauves of the Arboretum’s rhododendrons. Nor do I want to miss the spindly-legged lambs skittering about fields that were once home only to sluggish, chubby sheep. All too soon they’ll have turned into sturdy teenage sheep waiting their turn to go to market.
The trouble is, when you live in an area like this all year round, it’s all too easy not to notice what tourists travel miles to see. If your chief shopping destination is the Coop rather than the Highgrove shop, and your shopping list is for groceries rather than rare antiques, you’re bound to have a different perspective on the local landscape.
So when are they going to mend all these potholes?
(This post originally appeared in the Tetbury Advertiser, March 2011)