Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Waiting for the Sun

A little discussion today - when will spring finally come? Winter can be beautiful if accompanied by sharp frosts, blue skies and regular sprinklings of powdered snow. But what we've had now for the past 12 days is grey skies, grey pavements, rain and drizzle, temperatures well above zero, meltwater in your shoes and localised flooding. And all this can get you down.

Last Monday was said to be 'Blue Monday', that most depressing day of the year. [In 2008 it was 21 January] This is to do with the long dark nights and the fact that spring is still such a long time away. There were three deaths under local railway trains in the space of three days last week (the first reported here).

Well, living at these latitudes gives cause for gratitude when the days become long and warm, and that first day of the year when one is thankful for a cooling breeze. The relative uniformity of day-length and temperatures associated with equatorial regions does not unleash that same unbridled joy felt in more northerly latitudes with the onset of spring.

But when will it come? In London, the sight of daffodils and crocuses on the lawn is only two-three weeks away. In Warsaw, we wait until mid-April - for that sudden explosion of verdant life; by early May the greenery is startling, the warmth and long hours of daylight as magnificent and perennial as true love itself.

So still three months to go before that wonderful time (savour it!) when the fruit trees blossom and burst into leaf and you can abandon multiple layers of outer clothing for a cotton shirt.

Any indications of spring? Well, it's light (just about) at 4pm and when the wind blows from the south, you can imagine some inkling of how it will be when winter retreats - but this is deceptive. Snow can (and no doubt will) return and fall heavily and settle for weeks before winter is finally and decidedly over. Looking back over past years, February has witnessed massively heavy deposits of snow, and even though almost all of last month's snow has melted away over the past week and half - it most probably will return and stay for weeks. Even in mid-March, winter can make its beautious presence felt. However, right now, the forecast suggests a return to around zero and wet snow for Thursday.

Buds on trees and bushes will not start to show up until early April. Migratory birds will not return until late March. And Lent this year will only start on 9 March - Easter Sunday will fall on 24 April (really late).

Keep watching the skies. Keep yearning, keep hoping. For whatever else happens, spring will return. And when it does, won't life be wonderful? (I'm starting to sound like Chance the Gardener, from Jerzy Kosiński's Being There).

This time last year:
When is an ulica not a street?

This time two years ago:
Into the trees

1 comment:

Decoy said...

I find it interesting that in Ireland we consider spring to start on February 1st, whereas in Poland I have always been told that it can only be considered spring from March 22nd onwards - which summarises the weather conditions and expectations in both countries neatly, I'd say.