Where the bee sucks, there suck I; In a cowslip's bell I lie; There I couch when owls do cry; On the bat's back I do fly, After summer, merrily. (from The Tempest by William Shakespeare)
Of all the seasons, spring engenders the sensation of being by far the most fleeting. Natural processes accelerate. Spring arrives with a vengeance. Is it not vengeful that it lets blossoms and daffodils delight the senses for so brief a time? So brim full of promise yet emptied so soon?
They say: “Youth is wasted on the young.” Surely that has correspondence in the greater natural world? Spring’s youthful exuberance dissipated in the blink of an eye.
The springs of youth pay no heed to the fruits of their labours. They fly ahead of summer, straight for “where the bee sucks” the flowers’ sweet nectars. But contrary to Shakespeare’s “After summer merrily”, they are in hot pursuit of spring – verily.
What, for me, shrieks of the season’s sense of something already lost even as you are experiencing it? Spring’s shriek owl without voice, that’s me, as natural and fixed a feature of this place I call home as our shriek “owls do cry”. A mute cry triggered and felt most intensely with the flowering of the fruit trees and the daffodils’ excess of yellow.
It starts with the plum trees in the gully and in the farmer’s paddock the other side of our drive. They are a mix of very old trees and more recent ones that have self -germinated from stones. A clean, radiant white blossom bar one tree boasting pink.
Next are the stone fruit trees that we planted. The deep pink early blossom of the Black Boy peach and the Billington plum’s white, followed by the Black Doris plum, Morepark apricot, and the white-fleshed peach tree given to us as a seedling.
The apple trees are in full flower now, but the blossoming of the other fruit trees has been replaced by a riot of leafy green. And what of the radiance of the daffodils? Withered husks.
The sunshine yellow of daffodils is achingly exquisite. In one part of my being I want them to flower all year round. There’s something about vivid yellow flowers that lift the spirit. But as if to add emphasis to their transitory nature as spring’s harbingers, the cut flowers last only a few days in a vase.
In late autumn, a couple of years running recently, June’s mum picked a generous armful of yellow chrysanthemums for us from her Christchurch garden. We put them in a big vase on the living room table and they lasted a couple of months. A joyous splash of colour to lighten the dullest of winter days.
Chrysanthemums tell you to bide your time. Daffodils tell you that the time has arrived – the quickening is upon you. Jump on board or you’ll miss the rollercoaster ride that is spring.
That’s all from Little Owl Gully till next Monday.
Thanks for your company. Bye for now.