Knowing that all’s not lost encourages us to pull up our socks, and set the world to rights
About which Shakespeare had waxed lyrical, “April, dressed in all his trim/Hath put a spirit of youth in everything”. Incapable of such eloquence ourselves, we can certainly see how this month, with all the beauty and fresh infusions of natural life that it brings, rejuvenates us too, putting a spring in our steps and stirring hope.
What a relief that is after winter’s long, dragging tale! Our winter of discontent brought us war, climate change, economic disaster, and a continuing, deadly pandemic. On the bright side, vital as that is in this season of positivity, the trauma of recent months puts our lives into perspective, throwing the many blessings that still exist into sharp relief. As poet Anne Bradstreet stated, “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
Knowing that all’s not lost encourages us to pull up our socks, and set the world to rights. Agreeing with Tolstoy that “Spring is the time of plans and projects”, we spring-clean and strategise; tossing out the dross and returning to the drawing board with renewed vigour.
Is there any better season in which to make our resolutions, if we must make them at all, than in glorious spring, when winter’s pall has lifted? Instead we embark upon them at the start of the Western year, when the gloom and bite of winter drains us of the willpower and energy we require to maintain our resolve.
We are destined to fail, you see, when the flesh is cold and weak, and more likely to yield to the comforts of rich food, excessive alcohol, or lazing under our blankets, though they are the very things we want to give up! Of the 80 per cent of New Year’s resolutions that flop, much of it is for this reason!
In spring we celebrate Easter, Holi, Navroz, Baisakhi, and more, and the rebirth they herald. The best possible time then to resolve to be better humans; kinder to ourselves, to others, and to the planet, in step with our seasonally renewed world. Because, as Victor Hugo so rightly observed, “If people did not love one another, I really don't see what use there would be in having any spring.”
Which brings us to the other bounty that spring brings: The joys of the mating season, and their natural result — babies! In Sherwood Forest where I live, not only are the daffodils, roses, buttercups, and bluebells, blossoming, we hear the flutter of many wings in the birdhouses we’ve built for avian offspring, a hive of apian activity can also be seen up our trees and eaves, and in the hedges, when walking the dog, she spies young rabbits even as we steer her away from their tender, new-born forms. Humans are attuned to this too, and can be seen in droves, now that the pandemic is deemed to be over (!), holding hands and cooing to each other. To all of which I am an indulgently amused observer.
I am more concerned and less amused however when my thirteen-year-old son receives racy photos on his phone from an unknown but clearly older woman (if the, ahem, curves on display are any indication)! It comes with an eyebrow-raising message — or should I say “hair”, considering how risqué it is — and to the young man’s credit, he immediately brings it to us. To our relief, it turns out to be spam and he hasn’t been specifically targeted. Although we do know of a girl or two in school who likes his green eyes, but they are his age, making it perfectly natural and of no concern to us.
We block the sender and move on, but are perfectly aware that such overtures will only multiply in seasons to come, as both our teenage son, and perhaps even more, our pre-teen daughter, begin to receive appropriate and inappropriate attention that we, their parents, will have to teach them to navigate; steering them, with a light touch, through the complexities of romance that we ourselves never mastered. Except in finding each other!
Then I’m struck by the thought that that’s what’s considered winning at love. To have sown love’s seeds together and kept them growing, regardless of how elegantly we arrived at that juncture. Not very elegantly, let’s say, with disastrous previous relationships, horrible exes, and other messy escapades along the way.
In fact, we almost didn’t start on this journey together at all, when he was thrown out of the nightclub at which we began talking, just as he was asking me out on our first date, because the bouncer decided he was inappropriately dressed. Not the most suave start, but I saw past the shirt the club didn’t like to his great heart, and he didn’t care that I wasn’t a goddess but a real woman with real flaws and flair. And here we are now, eighteen years later, attempting to guide our children through tortuous romantic pathways.
Yet, you couldn’t say it with greater clarity than John Steinbeck to his son in a letter, “What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about love—glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it. The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it. And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — the main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.”