I sit with my morning coffee, slowly waking up to the day, shuffling tired shoulders, stretching and yawning, half a sleepy ear on the children’s play. As I sip, I watch the rain outside the window, coming down soft, fresh and gentle. There are sparkling droplets on the tree. Two sparrows continue their breakfast on the feeder.
When I step outside, there will be a freshness in the air, the flowers will have taken on an extra vitality and the birds will be singing loudly. The water butts will have started to refill, our son’s ‘mud hole’ will be brimming and there will be puddles to jump in along the lane.
It has been several years since I could say that I truly enjoyed Spring. We lost a much longed for baby one Mother’s Day, and that year the bright optimism of the daffodils and the industrious nest building of the birds felt incongruous with my own grief and barrenness. Since then, the new life of February, March and April has felt a mixed blessing, as memories of the trauma of that time have tended to resurface as the first green shoots push their way out of the earth.
Last year, though, I was well on my way to a tentative enjoyment of the season. With our children, we went for walks in the woods, watched birds’ nests, saw the speckled eggs hatch and the little ones fledge. We jumped in puddles, played in the garden and paddled in the river. We felt the warmth of the sun and the softness of the rain. We blew bubbles and covered our feet with sand and ate lunch outside.
This year, Spring has felt particularly warm, loud and bright. We are slowed down, spending days in the garden, venturing out only in the lanes, fields and woods nearby, and there is so much life and growth to notice. When we play outside, the only human sounds are the swing creaking back and forth or the tractors in the fields. Everywhere, we have heard birdsong and seen new flowers appearing: yellow primroses and celandine, white wood anemone, blue forget-me-nots and pink red campion. Butterflies in the hedgerow. The scent of mint and wild garlic. Then, the bluebells! And with them, the realisation that for me, Spring has been redeemed! It will always carry the sad memories but it will also hold out all these moments of healing and hope.
Our family’s story is all about that: the tender holding of both sadness and joy, pain and healing, loss and hope.
Spring is often thought to be about new life and growth after a season of apparent lifelessness. Yet I think of it, now more than ever, as a testament to the tremendous growth that was happening, unseen, in the dark, cold months that came before.