May, The Pace of Spring.
Coming and going between Norfolk and Cumbria has been like doing a seasonal tango. I move from high spring to early spring and then leap-frog back to late spring. I bid farewell to the last of the primroses in Norfolk and watch them opening in Cumbria a week later. I leave the northern oaks still hard skeletons and six hours later, back in the south, find them soft and mustardy. I pass a field of sheep in Norfolk, almost hidden by an abundance of long grass but the cows in Cumbria are still in the barn two weeks later. My woolly jumper and thermal vest have been put away and unpacked, put away and unpacked.
I read somewhere that spring moves north at a walking pace. It’s a compelling thought, Primavera herself, emerging young and naked from her clam shell, magicly banishing winter as she moves slowly north, with her hand maidens, the migrant birds, singing spring into being. Where a mere glance will bring a whole hedgerow shuddering into a climax of blossom in Norfolk, she has to work harder in Cumbria, winter’s icy tentacles are taking some shifting this year. The further north she goes the deeper the hibernation of the plants she has to wake. Weather sculpted hawthorns that endure winds funneled into frenzies down narrow valleys are understandably cautious about coming into leaf, never mind bud. Ferns unfurl begrudgingly. Ash is unmoved. Perhaps it’s the goose bumps and the shivering of this, by now, bedraggled beauty that makes her magic less potent? Or perhaps it’s only through the deepest and most powerful magic that spring arrives in the north at all.