At the time of writing, the clocks had just gone forward in Britain and it is officially ‘Spring’. Even though the sun had not yet started to shine, this is the season that always fills my heart with the most joy. Not only do the empty flowerbeds of our gardens start to spring into life, but I think we as human beings physically uncurl too. We come out of hibernation and become more sociable (or perhaps that’s just me). Those lighter mornings and longer days help to propel us out of bed, and stay out to play. And yet we could not have Spring without winter, the season where it’s all happening behind the scenes; the earth protecting its plants, nourishing them from within to give them the strength to bust out when called by the sun. And I like to think that we’re doing the same at home, before this moment, we’re stoking our stores with warming stews, and hearty casseroles, and sleeping longer to ready ourselves for the more active months ahead.
Historically, when the only measure of time was the rising and setting of the sun, and activity was limited to how many candles you could afford to burn, the dawn of Spring naturally encouraged more productivity. The time for planning and prep was over. Longer days meant more action! Spring cleaning was tied into this too. Households literally sweeping away the stagnancy of the still season; furiously polishing windows to let light in, and flinging open doors to welcome fresh air.
I feel that natural pull to activity continues today. Perhaps it’s more about re-evaluation than zealous spring cleaning, but certainly these months tend to automatically prompt a seasonal review of one’s surroundings. It’s traditionally a popular time to move house; it’s also when many begin major renovations or extensions, with fingers crossed that the weather holds for their builders. The push is on to get things done so that they can be enjoyed by the summer.
Perhaps that’s why I like this season so much. It’s a time of such optimism. A time when the world around us is the visible embodiment of a sheer, unbridled enthusiasm for life. In my own garden everything is already green, the birds are back, noisily squabbling for attention around the bird feeder, and the last of the surrounding trees are threatening buds, if not blossom. It reminds us that no matter how harsh the last few months may have been, paraphrasing the words of the utterly brilliant cartoonist Robert Crumb, we’ve got to keep on truckin’, for spring always follow winter.
First published in the May edition of ELLE Deecoration