Monday 11 April 2016


Winter wasn’t gone but Spring was in and how did that work? I was neither here nor there. Between the frosty blue sky mornings and the warm wet windy afternoons, lived under a carpet of grey, stretching above to each horizon, I was lost, but no longer.

In an earthly visceral way I need seasons, but along with many other aspects of life here in the West of Ireland, lines of definition are blurred. 

You might turn to the scientifically proven, or prefer meteorological methods. Then there’s the Pagan way, all sorts of Christian and Judaic calendars, lunar cycles and which way the dog farts into the east wind.

Yet really, it’s quite simple.
It’s up to us. If you feel it’s Spring then it’s Spring.  

Trouble was, I didn’t know which season I was in. Each Winter I rig up my extra toasty bedding, with a bare duvet on top of the mattress, under a fitted sheet, below a duvet and a blanket.

Why all the detail? Because if you’ve never done as my good friend in north Mayo advised, and slept through the cold season with a duvet both below and above you, well, what can I say?

There is no warming-up process. You slide in as a cheese slice and instantly melt.

If that image has stunted your libido, I apologise.

Anyway, this year I clung a disgustingly long time to the comfort of all that palaver on the bed, and when I finally picked up the cleaned duvet and washed blanket from the launderette, I said to myself,

“Putting Winter to bed.”

Well, actually I said it out loud by mistake, but I’m funny like that.
As soon as I heard those words Spring instantaneously arrived in my soul; the very same simultaneously in my step.

All around me signs of the new season have been flooding my senses, but confused by the combination of an intimidating To Do list and those harsh March nights, I was feeling unpleasantly out of synch with the season.

Sometimes capable of the odd thought and mildly diverting ramblings, I am and aspire only to be a fairly benign animal, essentially an insignificant bit player alongside the magnificent beasts and beings that wander this planet.

Some might see such an apparent lack of ambition as a cop out for lazy base behaviour, but I can think of little more worthy.

Throughout my life I’ve taken immeasurable pleasure from smelling, observing, falling over in and standing silent among the wonder of the world out there.

I bloody love it and that’s why it’s been strange this Spring, because I knew it was happening from a host of signs, but just hadn’t felt it.

sparkling celandine

I’d shed the heavy jacket for the walking and the hat and gloves finally went too. I’d dropped the extra T-shirt and could see from those very same walks that all manner of buds were on the verge of bursting everywhere.

Frogspawn was morphing in the drainage ditches into tiny jumping squidge-balls, much the the delight of Lady dog, who would use the arrangement as some kind of Drive-Thru restaurant, if I let her, which I don’t.

I knew Spring was here because I saw it in my houseplants. Usually I switch back on to feeding them around the equinox, but this year didn’t even look at the date.

They looked hungry and it was time.

Forsythia bursting through the gloom

In front of me the season of yellow was raging. Thanks to the Snapper’s endeavors, primroses beam their lemony light right along the hedge, while celandine and dandelion glow like sunshine in dark corners. In the shrubbery the forsythia pumps forth its own breed of yellow and still I feel between the seasons. 

 luminous primroses....
Last Summer, as you may recall, was a wipeout. There were no long dry evenings spent wandering around the wildflower bed, dead-heading the poppies and cornflowers.

Instead, from the dry side of the kitchen window we looked out at the sideways rain and I announced we’d do no dead-heading at all. 
We’d see what happened if we allowed all the plants to do what they were designed for. ain't yellow, it's a hebe, but a Hebe has to have a hebe...

Over the dark months Autumn leaves fell on top of any spare spaces between the plants. Tall cornflower stems bent in gales, spilling their loads, spreading rolling waves of plants to come. 

Smaller poppies, Nigella and several types of dodgy weeds rotted down, and to me the mulchy muddy mess looked lovely, but all Winter the Snapper saw only a job that needed doing, so as soon as I gave the green flag, she grafted long and hard and cleared the detritus, leaving soil I could rake into a seed bed.

Fair play to her.

Much to my delight the bed has done just what I wanted, so for the last couple of weeks Spring has been looking back at me in the shape of millions of minuscule green eyes.


These seedlings coming up now have appeared far earlier than any sewn this Spring, so we’ll have flowers at least a month earlier this year and that makes me happy, if not full of the joys of Spring.

Considering your colyoomist’s claims to be all down in the ground and animalistic, you’d hope that shedding clothes and sewing seeds might be enough to make me feel Winter had passed, yet for some reason it’s been different this year.

It wasn’t until I held a polythene bag in my hand, with a blanket and duvet inside, that I felt Spring had arrived.

Strangely unnatural goings-on for the Adley brainbox to consider, yet what a fabulous place I must be in, if there’s room for this to worry me.

At last: a mental Spring to go with the one in my toes.

©Charlie Adley

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