Somewhere in the last few days there was a shift from tail end of winter to definite spring – the sort of spring that could eventually turn into summer, if we’re lucky. The birds are gathering nesting materials, the blackbirds are singing down the sun with enthusiasm, and there’s a greening in the hedgerows. Buds fatten and the hawthorn is in leaf.
In previous years I’ve been wary of that whole ‘tie your psychological processes to the cycle of the seasons’ malarkey. There are many ways in which it doesn’t work. Winter is a hard and busy time for me, the realities of life are demanding, I do not do the peaceful sleep of the dark time of the year. Mostly it depresses me. However, the practical shift into spring, with longer days, more light, more warmth makes a difference. All the jobs become easier, laundry dries outside, the stove doesn’t need keeping in through the day, and I have more energy to use elsewhere.
My ancestors would have been ploughing and sowing – I can see the work in the fields. They would have had new livestock to care for, so being released from the work of winter would simply have made the work of spring easier for them. Not a time of birthing new plans, but a time of reacting to what the season demands, historically speaking.
I don’t do the rush towards midsummer, but I do have a shift at this time of year. More light means more available working time. Sat in the duvet at 6.30 am I wrote some verses. I wake earlier thanks to the light, too. If the weather is fair, such that regular jobs become easier, then there will be more energy to give to other work. If the evenings are good I can also go back to strolling around sunset, which opens me up to different experiences. This is the time of year when I become less devoted to the radio. There will be more people about walking in the evenings too, so it becomes more sociable. Winter nights on the towpath are quiet.
Nature is not something we have to make a considered, intellectual response to. It’s not a case of noticing spring and recognising it’s time to get those winter-dreamed plans under way. We are nature. We are natural. All we have to do is give ourselves enough space to do what we do and find out what it is. We’ll all have our own cycles and rhythms. The hibernating hedgehog is not more or less right than the migrating swan or the labouring duck. We do what we do. If life requires us to live in ways that are at odds with our natures, we suffer. Most of modern life is arranged so that the majority of us do not have scope to live naturally. I can’t imagine this does us any good. However much time and space you have to be your natural self, embrace it, for this is precious. Don’t do any more than you must to reinforce the unnatural systems we’ve locked ourselves into. A little quiet rebellion goes a long way!