I was born and raised in suburban Los Angeles. In Southern California the seasonal variations are quite subtle. Changes in the quality of light, the rising and setting of the sun and which constellations could be seen through the light pollution and smog. Plus it was a very urban environment and there were hardly any native plants or green spaces to mark the changes. We didn’t get the four seasons that I learned about in school. There was the rainy season from November to March and the smoggy season from April to October. All of my life there, I longed for seasons. I used to observe the four seasons by the calendar and my table linens – pastels and rabbits for springtime, rattan and sunflowers for summer, russet and golden leaves for fall and blue and silver for winter.
Since I have been living in Great Britain, I have come to know the seasons quite intimately. I have always lived out in the country. In Scotland, in a farm cottage, then in a gardener’s cottage and for the past three years in Devon, in a converted cider barn.
I have come to know the delicate nuances of each season and the multi-layered borderlands between them. Also, that there are many more than four seasons, or is it that there are many times within each season?
The time of tiny red spiders, the time of floating white feathers, when the swallows return, the time of frog spawn . . . . . . . .
The time of wild daffodils starts in about the third week of January. The first spears of the wild daffodils thrust themselves through the softening earth and last years dead leaves.
Over the next few weeks the flower buds gently swell . . . . . . . . . . . . .
So far, only one of the daffodils along the stream at Langdale Farm has flowered. I went for a walk along the mill race at Sowton Mill on Sunday and there was a trumpeting of yellow blossoms accompanied by the music of the river.
To an Early Daffodil
Thou yellow trumpeter of laggard Spring!
Thou herald of rich Summer’s myriad flowers!
The climbing sun with new recovered powers
Does warm thee into being, through the ring
Of rich, brown earth he woos thee, makes thee fling
Thy green shoots up, inheriting the dowers
Of bending sky and sudden, sweeping showers,
Till ripe and blossoming thou art a thing
To make all nature glad, thou art so gay;
To fill the lonely with a joy untold;
Nodding at every gust of wind to-day,
To-morrow jewelled with raindrops. Always bold
To stand erect, full in the dazzling play
Of April’s sun, for thou hast caught his gold.
– Amy Lowell