Season Turning

Saturday 18th of April 2020
fruit tree in blossom

Over the past month or so, I have been one of the citizens of the UK in lockdown. That has certainly had an impact on our lives but I have been leaving the house regularly, both for work and for exercise. I think some of the enforced changes have given life a different rhythm, but perhaps they have also created a space in which I can think about normal rhythms of life.
For example, I think an awareness of the days continuing to lengthen, which I generally have at this time of year when leaving for work, has been further enhanced. That process accelerates around the equinox and is also often accentuated by the clocks changing to give us the version of daylight saving time which we know as British Summer Time. That delays sunrise temporarily, but it always seems to me that within a few days much of that time-lag has been made up by the inexorable tracking of the time of dawn back through the hours.
Leaving the house for regular exercise has meant for me and my family that we have had short walks in a local country park which offers woodland, a river and some ponds, as well as grassland. There have been changes almost every day in the last few weeks in what we have witnessed as we have transitioned into a different season.
Another example of this came a couple of weeks ago when I spoke to a friend who lives in a rural environment and usually helps a farmer neighbour with spring lambing. Although there are huge questions over the economic impact of the coronavirus for farmers as well as many other businesses, including in relation to the selling of these animals, the lambs will be being born anyway. I can’t really imagine how much anxiety or other difficult states of mind that may cause, but I hope these events are not without some comfort.
Similarly, seeing nature move into springtime, with trees coming into leaf, birds nesting and spring flowers emerging in warm sunshine, may be giving some sort of balance to the testing times we have been experiencing, for some people at least.
I recently came across a documentary on the BBC by the filmmaker, Alison Millar. She made this film about her origins in a farming community in Northern Ireland. One of the strands within the broadcast was nature, especially linked to creativity. When she was growing up, it was still relatively rare for someone to leave the village and make their way elsewhere in the world. At the same time, there was something in both the links that she and her contemporaries had with the natural world and the way that was used to foster self-expression in schoolchildren which seemed to broaden their horizons in other ways.
Much has been made of many children not being in school over the last few weeks. This may be as much a pious hope as what I have already expressed, but I would like to think that this may have given some openings for connection with the natural world and for unexpected opportunities for self-expression in relation to this. When our orbit seems to become more limited, it can be a chance for us both to slow down and to pay more attention to what can easily pass us by and I know that I have felt some of that recently.