I thought my holiday timing would mean arriving home just as spring was springing…..Here we are April 11th and still no spring. Hmmm. Not to worry it’ll be here this weekend apparently and good job too as this lack of green is very dispiriting. Although not quite as depressing as the sight of more snow. I’ve never known so much snow – not the actual amounts but the frequency of flurries.
Normally getting the garden ready for spring is like running for a train – I just about make it in time and flop into my seat and soak up the gorgeousness as it all sets off on its summer journey. This year, the train was delayed and I’ve had time to sweep the platform, polish the rails and have a long conversation with the station master. The garden is so ready to go it actually looks like a proper ‘open to the public’ sort of garden. (This will never happen again.)
In the meantime in this cold long winter I leap on beauty where I find it – artworks by a friend, immersing myself in music, reading stunningly written books and enjoying clever design. Art, music, literature. Have I finally grown up or has the lack of spring forced me to focus on other things? Maybe this is a new sort of happiness? For years I believed in true and pure happiness, but it doesn’t exist does it? Or at least it ceases to exist the older you get. You can’t reach middle age without having experienced or at least noticed pain, suffering, injustice and loss. These things make me unhappy – whether they are my losses, my pain, or the suffering of others. How do we live with it all? We do what we can perhaps through action groups and charities and tea and sympathy and maybe, hopefully, as a race we humans are becoming ‘better’. But in the meantime beauty in its various forms is our solace and spring, when it comes with its sunlight and colour it is always a mood booster.
Our garden is now in its tenth year. Shrubs that I couldn’t imagine being more than a few weedy twigs are now gregariously filling more space than I had allowed, the tree peonies may well take over the whole garden and I am giving away plants like people gave me plants at the beginning when I couldn’t believe I would ever be able to spare such precious space-fillers. This year more than ever I can’t wait to see how the garden looks in its summer clothes. But this year more than ever I am having to wait, so my ABC of music (Albinoni, Bach, Correlli) accompany me while I read or write or make some little gift for my guests to take home. Beauty gets me through. I try not to listen to the news.
And if the arts and crafts fail to cheer and the skies stay cold and grey we can always turn to humour - to laugh at it all – the insanity of life and human behaviour - and thank goodness as a race the British are particularly good at humour.
So here I am, just turned 48, focussing on beauty and humour and I will leave you with my favourite joke of the winter …What did one snowman say to the other? ……”Can you smell carrots?” And that is absolutely the last I will hear about snow this year.