Spring in the air (and in the step)Feb 14th, 2009 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Personal Columns
“Look at that – it’s 5.30 and it’s still daylight”.
We smiled at being delighted at the days growing longer – didn’t the days always grow longer? Wouldn’t the world come to a sudden end if its orbit were so changed that the daylight did not come back? wasn’t it a statement of the obvious? Wasn’t it like looking at the grass and saying, “Oh look! It’s green”? Nevertheless, there was a childish thrill at the light in the western sky. It mattered that the light was returning.
It wasn’t just the light. His garden had an expansive crop of snowdrops, all that glistened white on the grass now that the last lingering snow had retreated to the upper slopes of the hills.
Winter seemed to linger long. A biting coldness had announced its arrival on 1st November and it had overstayed its welcome, Saint Brigid’s Day on 1st February had marked not the arrival of mild days, but the onslaught of a severity of wintry weather not seen for thirty years. Spring had come almost timidly; perhaps frightened at a sudden final flick of winter’s tail.
Driving back from his home, I willed the light to last. Potholes in the road were a reminder that the Tiger economy, that once made property prices the main topic of conversation, was well and truly dead; yet even the most inept of politicians and dishonest of bankers could not deprive us of joy in our natural environment. Perhaps even the cloud cover was a blessing; a clear sky would have left the temperature to drop sharply and the rural hill roads to become icy. The car thermometer flashed a warning, but never dropped below three degrees. Lyric FM played people’s favourite classical love pieces; even the radio had realised it was spring.
As the Equinox approaches, the days begin to lengthen at a gallop, four minutes a day, a half an hour a week; summer days in Ireland last forever. Perhaps it should not make a difference: why would suburban dwellers worry? We are not trying to grow crops; we are not trying to tend livestock; we are not trying to save hay; we are not trying to cut corn.
Yet there is something of the primitive that remains, that delights at the bright mornings and the sunlit evenings. It is only the Gulf Stream that allows so many of us to live so far north; were we in Canada, we would be on the ice of Hudson Bay; were we in Russia, we would be under the Siberian snow; in the southern hemisphere, we would be among the peaks of Tierra del Fuego.
Walking along Church Road, daffodil shoots seemed to have appeared almost suddenly in flower beds. In the streetlight, a first bloom of a miniature clump had appeared. I bent to touch the flower; almost not believing it was there. It had a sacramental quality about it; an outward and physical sign of the springtime that is at once temporal and spiritual.