The coming of spring is a very location specific thing. Even across a few miles, sheltered and exposed spots have slightly different seasons. Through March, I’ve watched the greening. The first shoots poking up through the soil have now arrived fully, opening out into garlic leaves, particularly. The elders have unfurled their leaves already, with the hawthorn not far behind. I’m seeing the chestnuts opening, although the black buds of the ash trees seem tightly shut still. I think the beeches will open soon, and the oaks of course always tend to be a bit later.
This time of year brings a rush of new life and colour and that can be uplifting. I was outside yesterday, enjoying the sun, and more especially, the colour. One of the things I really struggle with in winter, can be the loss of colour. Yes, granted grey is a colour, but apparently lots of grey doesn’t work for me. Perhaps it’s the lack of strong differences. Perhaps it’s the washed out quality of winter colours. I do better when there are bright, cold winter days with blue skies and more intense dark shades for contrast.
I have an emotional dependence on colour. When my environment has very little colour in it, I tend to get melancholy. The relentless beige and magnolia of the hospital where I gave birth really got to me. I’ve struggled with the white walls of this flat, although we’ve inserted what colour we can by other means. January is the time of year I am most motivated to decorate. It’s also the time of year I’m likely to want a mad, psychedelic colour scheme, which isn’t always optimal.
However, painted colours are no substitute for sky and plant colours, and the colours of spring, the yellows of daffodils and primroses are a real joy. I’ve been comforting myself with a chilli plant, and the bright red peppers are cheery, but do not have the same effect as the white of the first blackthorn flowers or the snowdrops. I don’t think it’s simply because of that rush of new life or promise of longer days, either. After the grey days, white is a colour that impacts on me too (in flowers but not in wall colours, I am not sure why!), the vibrancy of white against a washed out winter background, can be startling. The presence of flowers is a thing in its own right.
Green is a wonderful, soulful colour. It is, for me, the colour of life. The green of chlorophyll in plants is a parallel to the blood in human bodies. It is the essence of the plant world, and a key part of most food chains. Green is life, health and hope. Once again, we survived the winter. We did not freeze to death, or starve, and perhaps there’s something very fundamental, ancestral in me which responds to this. The seasons turn, and the greening promises reasons for optimism.