When I was a kid growing up in Swindon most Saturday’s we took the train to Bath to watch the rugby. As you left Swindon on the right hand side there was a shallow embankment. In the spring time the Daffodils, when in bloom, would spell the phrase: ‘Spring is Sprung’.
I love all of the four seasons for the contrast and the richness that they bring to our lives; creating a real sense of tangible change and the full range of colours in nature. Its always good when we’re on the cusp of the changing of the season, especially between winter and spring.
This winter has been a good one. The sunniest since 1929 according to the Met Office, its also had some fantastically clear nights, ideal for stargazing, and also for deep frosts in the morning. There is something re-assuring about the noise of people scrapping the ice off of their windscreens and the pure beauty of a landscape shrouded in a glistening white.
Many of the signs of spring start to emerge before we get to March (the 1st of March is officially the first day of the meteorological spring). Daffodils and primroses coming into bloom, catching a glimpse of your first butterfly and the buds on trees: all signs of milder weather and that much valued extra hour of daylight (that comes at the end of the month).
Its also the time when we and the animal kingdom begin to emerge from hibernation. The promise of warmer weather getting us out and about; and the natural world ready for the season of huge change and reproduction.
Every day the volume of birdsong cranks up a notch. You notice how our feathered friends are starting to limber up with their vocal gymnastics, generating a wonderful soundscape in towns, cities and the countryside. We’re full speed ahead towards the arrival of the wall of sound, that is the dawn chorus. And don’t forget the joy of the dusk chorus too.
I feel the need to connect to the seasons. So much of our lives are spent rushing around, spent looking at screens and getting through those to-do lists. Nature, especially in the spring, can be a real tonic for us all; taking the time out of our day to notice things as they change lifts the spirits.
One of the big symbols of the arrival of spring is the toad patrol in Charlcombe Valley, on the eastern side of Bath, cranking into action. The road signs appear, warning drivers about the perilous journey for the toads as they migrate down to the ponds, and diversions are in force. And the wonderful volunteers are out in force helping them on their way.
Spring is a time of renewal. I can’t wait to see the fragile beauty of the delicate white flowers of hawthorn, the first butterflies of the season on the wing and the appearance of nests in the trees. And there is something so magical about wandering through a traditional orchard with the fruits trees in full blown.
So its time to get ready and take time to see and hear the wonders of nature with the first signs of spring.