I don’t expect I’ll ever fully know how remarkable life is, or ever be fully present to the paradise we dwell in, but I am sure that it is in the season of spring that I’ll get closest. Wherever I rest my eye, fresh miracles abound. Plants are clothed in a shade of green so vibrant it might just change your life. Crawling creatures of all shapes, sizes and colours are newly transfigured into their adult forms, whilst overhead sojourning birds celebrate their recent return to this latitude
How can it be that the dusky swift scything through fields of cloud was woven out of dust, specks and motes of hardly anything at all? What unknown worlds exist within the midge swarm that drifts, fairy-like, from the dew-soaked grass, and how did the chiffchaff divine that the time had come to fly north and seek out this rich source of food? And what wonder, that this red damselfly should have emerged from the silty depths of the lake, metamorphosed, taken to the wing and flown.
Here I am, a world-weary 21st-century citizen, so ready to find disappointment around every corner, yet what sane person could be disappointed with such a world? I wonder how it is that we so often look at one of these bright burning works of art and merely shrug and say, ‘Oh. It’s just a swallow passing by. It’s just a tiny black fly. Just another blackcap singing. Just a miniscule moth painted in gold as dazzling as an Egyptian mummy’s horde.’
If only I could stop worrying and see it all clearly. Take root, and pass a single day fully wrapped up in wonder, fully aware, free and alive. The promise of such a day: that’s something worth living for. A remote possibility, perhaps, but when I consider the birds in spring – their beauty arising anew – I get a foretaste. I trust it will be enough to keep me sane for another year.
These are brand new birds of twelve months’ growing,
Which a year ago, or less than twain,
No finches were, no nightingales,
But only particles of grain,
And earth, and air, and rain.
(From Thomas Hardy’s “The Proud Songsters,” in Winter Words)