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Issue 68 - Spring forward

Scotland Magazine Issue 68
April 2013


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Spring forward

Rob Allanson muses on the turn of another year

The seasons here in the United Kingdom are starting to turn again; the iron bound grip of winter is hopefully starting to relax. The snowdrops and then daffodils have started to emerge, despite the occasional cold snap trying to shorten their lives.

I am a big fan of the shoulder seasons: Spring and Autumn. The icy grip giving way to slow warming days, the sap rising, birds singing more often and a build up of energy palpable on the air as living things get ready to emerge and grow.

It's funny because both seasons have almost the same scents. The air also starts to take on that gorgeous leaf mulchy smell, in Autumn the dying leaves, in Spring the melt water drenching the fields. For me it is heralding a time of misty morning rides to work and travelling home in that long, low sunlight that is like riding through treacle. The fields have pretty much all been ploughed up now scenting the air with a deep earthy note.

Both seasons are the time to take a hip flask of something on a walk into the woods and really savour the flavours.

I think in our modern world it is all too easy to lose touch with the seasons; well apart from the extreme poles of hot summer and cold winter, there is a glorious variance in between, subtle shifts between light and dark, heat and cold.

When I was younger Autumn was the time of the harvest festival: baking bread, decorating cakes and making up food baskets to give to the elderly.

Spring was about celebrating the lengthening of days, coming out of the dark, with Easter the pinnacle festival. Eggs, fluffy chicks, hot cross buns, Simnel cake and gambolling lambs all pointing the way to May Day celebrations, another excellent festival and the usher of summer's long lazy days.

There is a profound value in marking time's progress. It roots us to the rock we all cling onto, well it does for me living surrounded by barley fields and sugar beet crops.

Soon the neighbours doorstep will be decorated with baskets of flowers, painted eggs and yellow chicks, the clocks go forward soon and the chunky knitwear and heavy coats can be carefully folded away for a few months.

In Britain we should celebrate egg rolling, painting hardboiled eggs revive those ceremonies from our childhoods.