From feeling like a Baked Alaska to touching crisp, sun-warmed towels, this is the time of year I love most
IT BLOODY SNOWED here on Monday. But, overall, the signs are that Spring is getting 2021 in a headlock at last.
Yesterday, I was out running in warm sunshine, wearing my shorts – alternately horrifying and dazzling passers-by as bright light bounced back off my veiny old white legs.*
Afterwards, I walked up to our allotment and watered for the first time this year.
My wife’s been working on the plot for months as an escape from lockdown, and it’s looking in particularly fine fettle as a result.
We look like getting a bumper crop of strawberries, while the patches containing onions, garlic and raspberries are all weeded, composted and ready to grow. Purple Sprouting Broccoli is already… um, sprouting. Wildly.
At home, Her Indoors is already potting and hardening off** the next tranche of plants – summery crops, ready to go into the ground when it warms up a bit more. Greedily, I gaze at these infant leeks, tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and artichokes, and their promise of eagerly-anticipated High Summer.
Gardening is a show of faith that there will be something to look forward to”
One of the great psychological benefits of gardening, of growing things, is that it’s a kind of pact with the future. What I mean is, planning a garden – leaving stuff in the ground, and trusting it to grow – is a show of faith that there will be something to look forward to further down the line, which in turn makes you want to be there to see and taste it.
Similarly, I’ve been extending the patio of our East-South-East-facing back garden, so that we can harvest a bit more sun in what’s likely to be another a stay-at-home summer (or at least a-stay-at-home-for-ages-then-try-to-squeeze-in-a-cheeky-week-in-Greece-around-September-summer).
Right now, I don’t especially mind if we have to spend months in the UK, because I’m so enjoying the little signs that the days here are getting longer and warmer.
For some reason, being able to dry clothes on a line instead of in a tumble dryer always makes me joyful***. And this morning, I woke up feeling anxious because I’d been dreaming about water coming through the ceiling, but the bright, clear skies soon talked me round.
I’m hungry for more days when the brightness makes me happy”
I’m hungry for more days when the brightness alone is enough to make me happy.
Something is telling me: “This is it! This is the bit of life you like the most, so go out and like the hell out of it!”
God knows, I stress and moan enough about the short days and the dark months while I’m living them, so it’s a blessing to recognise how elated the slow unfurling of Spring is making me.
I tell myself that I should squeeze all the pleasure I can out of the months ahead: I don’t mean sitting crammed into a beer garden with a million other people (although I’m not totally ruling it out!)
I mean that I want to take in the light, the warmth, the nature… the fresh breeze smell of a towel that’s crisp and warm in your hands as you take it from the line and fold it for the basket.
* I’ve decided that achieving brown legs is going to be one of my summer projects. Hey, don’t laugh! Us low achievers can have goals, too!
** For non-horticulturalists, ‘hardening off’ is gradually exposing plants to the outdoors during the daytime so that they can get comfortable at lower temperatures. I’m doing something comparable with my legs, by going out for quick trips on the bike in my shorts. When it’s sunny and cold at the same time, I have an inkling of how a Baked Alaska must feel.
*** Incidentally, my most memorable on-line experience was in Andalusia, where in summer, even the morning sun will turn a soggy beach towel into a Ryvita in less than an hour.