Snowbells. A sign of a beginning or an end? I’m never quite sure. Are those delicate ballerina flowers winter’s final flourish, or, spring's first forays? The first sight of them always give me hope.
Spring. Nature’s way of having a party. Daffodils herald it’s arrival with the fanfare of their yellow trumpets. Tooting triumphantly, promising that sunshine is on it’s way.
Except this year, it wasn’t.
Arctic winds blew. Snow fell in April. Heating stayed cranked up warm. Chimneys continued to smoke. Delicate skin became cracked and chapped from the extremes of cold and heat. Oilatum was needed for the boy’s bath and calendula ‘weather protection cream’ for around his mouth before going out.
Pip, in keeping with a season that prides itself on growth, did what he was supposed to do. Grow. A lot. I found myself looking at a boy in half mast trousers and unintentional three quarter length sleeves; a wardrobe that needed replenishing, with the next size up. Except the high street had been foiled too, so all that was available was short sleeved T-shirts, thin cotton trousers and shorts, supplemented with the odd item found in a ‘winter sale’ basket here or there.
It was too cold to play outside for long. The Easter holidays were marked this year with empty London parks and hurriedly arranged, last minute play dates; as mothers saved each other’s sanity. We practised our drawing and phonics, we baked, danced to music in the kitchen, made Dens around the sofa, bought a playmobil circus from the charity shop and acted out elaborate shows. We continued to eat porridge for breakfast, and casserole for tea, because somehow eating salad and lighter foods just seemed wrong. We grew flowers inside instead. And looked for hints that a new beginning was in sight.
A white feather in the muddy wood; a sign of baby chicks, starting to take flight. A wobbly lamb in the fields. Primroses.
Eventually they came - gentle signs of hope.
We watched the huge magnolia tree, in the garden around the corner, start to brim at it’s edges, promising huge buds. Waited patiently for her to bloom; a sure sign that spring would then be here. And then she did; a resplendent display of white and pale pink, her delicate petals like fine tissue paper, fluttering gently in the warm breeze.
Sunshine started to break through the clouds warming tired, grey skin and sending spirits soaring. Breastfeeding at dawn was suddenly accompanied by a cacophony of bird song. The school run could be completed in a cardigan and absent of heavy winter coat, I found I walked with a lightness of step and a lifted heart.
This weekend I celebrated the confetti like petals of the cherry blossom falling in the park. Allowed myself to buy the strawberry ice cream they so reminded me of from the gelateria on the corner, and savour it on a warm bank holiday.
After the long winter months, I felt warm, alive, inspired and truly awake.