Signs of spring, if you look

We ambled along the dyke path, through the Ken-Dee marshland, on a reasonably clement afternoon. I’d brought the big camera along so I could get close enough to the various trees lining the circuit, to try to spot some buds of incipient spring.

The white fluffy willow buds looked ready to burst, and the oak ones had emerged already. The black quaking aspen buds scarcely rated a second glance, until it became clear that they were preparing to emerge too. But on our way back, we exclaimed, ‘There’s a different willow type we’d missed!’ And so that chance discovery became our best spring-time welcome of the walk.

Now the red kites around this Galloway Trail are numerous and they stay here throughout the winter. But on our foray into the signs of spring this one was circling over our heads so near that I only needed to point my telephoto and click. A pair of chaffinches sheltered in a blackthorn tree, out of danger behind the big thorns; they flitted away when we moved in too close.

As we’d started out on our little amble, a deer slipped through the marshy growth and away from sight. It felt like the natural activity of the fauna and flora around us was on the cusp of coming back to seasonal vibrance. Springtime seems to convey that urgent sense of emergence, of opportunity, that must be grasped if we can.

I’ve been working on a set of poems that could perhaps, if I seized the opportunity, be parlayed into a first pamphlet of work. Covering much of an austere autumn in our lives, the poetry feels fierce, a kind of Dylan Thomas raging against . . . against the desperate cold of winter, it turns out. And of course, that’s yet another metaphor to conjure with. But I’d like to think, rather more seriously than I have to date, about the possibility of embracing spring in one’s ageing life.

It turns out, however, in this post-modern cynical age, that the sentimentality associated with poetics in spring makes that seasonal theme a lot more challenging to write about with grace and lightness of touch, than it is to get on with the raging.

Still, one should never back away from a challenge, just because it looks too hard!

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