Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Spring has arrived!

Wow - spring is here. The moment of quickening, of life surging back. However spring finds you - birdsong, blossom or spawn - it's a signal: the old earth is turning its ancient face back to the sun. Last night and early this morning there was a blackbird flipping and flapping around the house announcing that spring's arrived - the signs have been around for a while, each year I seek them out anxiously and ardently - and each year brings the same joy as the green world starts to grow. Spring is the greatest of seasons.

I've been yearning for brighter, warmer days and at last I'm rewarded - today I cycle in shorts for the first time this year. The winds have paused and I pass ever quicker through lanes veiled in pale-lemon sunlight - the sense of expectation grows with each turn and each subtle extension of the days. Winter is ending.

It's a late afternoon ride; the builders working on converting a row of farm outbuildings and a barn are dusting themselves down and packing up their tools. The two men who walk the lane to Congerstone and back every day are close to home as I pass - but the sun is still shining and the sky is clear save for a few white cobweb like whisps. The ground beyond the hedgerows has a pinky-purple tinge flanked by a hazy luminosity where land, trees and sky merge. Making the most of this tranquil interlude, birds are calling out, chattering and gossiping - organising each other and arranging feathers in accordance with the latest fashions.

The golden glow seems to grow in strength as I pass the halfway mark - seeking out the nooks and crannies of the fields, sneaking in between tree trunks and delving into shadowy recesses. It filters deep through retinas into minds, so bodies shift, heads lift, hearts beat more swiftly, lungs fill and change is sensed. I'm on the homeward stretch now and my ride seems to be nearing its end too soon. This route that I've travelled countless times, that felt so burdensome in the depths of winter now seems trivial. I could go further but I've work that needs to be finished today. But still time to enjoy the lofty blue brightness of the afternoon sky there's a patch of thin white cloud now, like distant sparkling waves. There're skylarks along Derby Lane, joyous voices, euphoric and unrestrained. This stretch of road has open fields to both sides, the tufted grasses are bleached blonde and there are heathers gnarled and frizzled with remnants of bronze bracken fronds scattered here and there. There are bright green shards appearing too - like swords piercing the mesh and tangle. Not yet the vibrant vernal greens of full spring but as though the sudden warmth of the sun has tickled them awake.

The final stretch now - back up to home - 3 miles uphill a chore most of the time but not today. The wooded edge that lines the road displays the royal purple finery of birch branches slowly being replaced by vivid lime brightness. Winter larches are being outfitted in bushy costumes as needled tresses sprout in jade and green - then there's the solemn oaks - their buds opening to reveal light copper tips.

And then I'm home - feeling uplifted and content - the best day out on the bike this year. There's more to come. Bring it on.

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