TS Eliot is supposed to have said that ‘April is the cruellest month’ but it should be February. At this time of year the weather is usually bleak. Christmas is long gone and summer holidays seem a distant dream. There is no festival, apart from Valentines Day, a strictly commercial event. February is for evenings reading, watching TV, snuggling up and keeping warm. Until this week that is. The weather hit 14 degrees here in the East Midlands. The heating was turned off and we even went out into the garden. The weather is usually in harmony with the start of Lent and reminds that, like all natural things, we die. The ritual of ashes on the forehead gives us permission to dwell on something that we usually push to the back of our consciousness. Perhaps ‘the pensive monitoring of fleeting years’, as described by Wordsworth below.
But Spring is definitely in the air. The snowdrops are thick on the ground. The plants have buds, daffodils are blooming at the roadside and although my husband won’t believe me, walking through fields today I had my first bout of hay fever. ‘Odours lavishing’ are lost on me!
With all the gloom in the news you could be forgiven for sinking into despair. But then nature reminds us to be hopeful. And snowdrops are one of the first signs of Spring’s coming.
Lone flower, hemmed in with snows, and white as they
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day
Storms, dallying from the mountain tops, waylaying
The rising sun, and on the plains descend;
Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend
Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue eyed May
Shall soon behold this border thickly set
With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing
On the soft west wind and his frolic peers;
Nor will I then ray modest grace forget
Chaste snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitoring of fleeting years!