It isn’t quite here yet. It comes and goes in bursts of yellow light and clear blue skies. We are not in the month of April, with its sunshine and showers and weeds sprouting everywhere. Spring has not quite sprung.
And yet… The tomatoes have germinated. Forty-nine new lettuce seedlings are waiting to greet the outside world. The tiny specks of green which marked the celery and celeriac have got taller, and thrust out two fragile leaves apiece. We monitor our busy windowsills each morning for further signs of life. Outside, next year’s parsnips are in. The spinach is beginning to grow again. I have ordered some new hens. And last night we had broccoli from the garden with our fish pie.
Away from the fire the evenings are still shivery, but the days are warming fast. Gloves are discarded on the cycle home from school. Hats lie, unwanted, in the basket. Coats, donned under protest by some, are left unbuttoned by all. The snowdrops are over. The nettles are on the move.
I have almost finished being in: doing all those tasks I promised I’d do by Easter. Soon, very soon, I will be out every day, soaking up the sunshine and the green, green garden. And when it rains, which it will do, because we are in Yorkshire, after all, I can come in again and be pleased that I have a clean kitchen wall to look upon while I boil rhubarb jam and stir fresh greens into the soup.
Everything has its time. Last Sunday we started to plan our summer holidays, and while we were doing so I slipped in an little extra treat for the younger children and I: a trip to the seaside just as spring is turning into summer. A couple of nights in a boarding house, followed by smoked mackerel for breakfast and a race to be the first on the beach. We will dust off the buckets and spades, and dig out our bathers. The season of whelks and ices is coming round again. Soon, soon, but not just yet.
I made the schoolboy error of telling the children of this plan late one afternoon, as soon as our booking was confirmed by the last post. That night I found Ilse still awake long after her bedtime, whispering to her teddies. I can’t sleep, she told me. I’m too excited.
As for me, I went to bed with a head full of garden plans. Some new hens. How I’ll plant each bed. The shape of the days to come, in the spring, when everything is racing into life. My mind rushed from one thing to another, far into the wee hours of the morning, long after my own bedtime. In the morning I told John, bleary eyed, of my wakefulness. He laughed at me: how old are you? You sound just like Ilse.
I don’t care if I do. This is my very favourite time of year, full of hope and anticipation. Anything might happen, and I’ll do my best to make sure that it does. Good times are on their way. The earth is springing into life all around us, and I’m springing, too. Springing, springing, almost sprung.