online: 18 march 2005

17 march 2005 signs of spring

16:38 on the western edge of the heath, my back to the wind, a pale blue sky without cloud... I've not been here for months, the ground's been too wet but now it is dry, not muddy, not slippery... i sat down to look at the distant city, and the dome of St Paul's, a red helicopter came directly towards me, passing overhead at about 1000 feet.

I'm glad to be back in this part of the heath away from those over-familiar paths that remain dry in winter.

Signs of spring: young people already in lighter clothes, a woman in a pink dress, men with coats open. Feeling hot i took off cap, scarf, and gloves, and i'm wearing a light pullover that i haven't worn outdoors since the autumn.

Now, sitting in shadow and feeling colder as i write, i put scarf and cap on again... i remember the vegetative signs of spring as i walked here - blackberry branches still dead-looking but already in bud, some buds already sprouting leaves, pale green, about 10 or 20 millimetres across, the irises in edge of the Vale of Health pond are 20 to 30 centimetres high. And yesterday i saw an old swan chasing a young one in flight over the water, the wingtips of both striking the surface... Soon the young one will be gone to another pond and the older ones will attempt to bring up another brood in this dangerous habitat.

...As i wrote that the red helicopter returned. It flew back the way it came towards east London. I think it's the air ambulance.

How is it that the so predictable signs of spring seem to surprise us and cause so much joy? Is it that winter, even in this mild climate is too near to death for comfort (at this lattitude we would die without clothes and houses) and spring signifies the warmth of summer and renewed conditions of life, not death ?

Or is it that the warmth of spring actuates directly the same kind of chemical processes that cause trees to bud, animals and insects to come out of hibernation, and living things to reproduce?

All of these reasons, i imagine, and probably more... the nature of life at its most expansive, most intangible, yet most evident. The season of life at its best!...

...But no, the other seasons can also affect us profoundly... these questions are too partial... each season is a part of something greater, something too difficult for me to describe.

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