SOUTHSIDE STORIES

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Spring’s Miracle

by Dakshina Gammanpila

Spring’s miracle is an antidote to the optics and upticks, the R rates and the irates that abound. Covid a year in, and we are worn down, confused, complacent or just plain fatigued. It has been a twelve month which has brought so many to their knees and in other ways a reassessment, providing an opportunity to reflect and reset. Although there were those that say it was inevitable, many had not predicted this event, or indeed to what vast extent it floored us. It seems that financially rich nations are not immune – as the wealthiest nation on earth has shown.

An ineradicable sadness seems to sit like a pall over our plans and state of mind. Nature, in all her manifestations lifts this veil. Nature, and particularly Spring is grounding and elevating also, reminding us of the permanence of change, that the cycle is constantly turning week after week, season after season, year (however traumatic) after inexorable year.

Seeing snowdrops bursting forth reminds me of the strength and fragility of nature and the vulnerability and indomitability of the human condition. I was almost beside myself seeing them bloom in late January; even more so on the coldest of days viewing them from my window, occasionally still snugly tucked up in bed. The very ones I have captured in this week’s photo offering.

Snowdrops are such fascinating flowers. I rarely anthropomorphize anything but they do resemble shy adolescents hanging their heads, not wishing to be noticed. Nonetheless one cannot fail to see them, the white is so luminous and although they look almost sad, -their petals listing towards the ground, as if they should not be the announcers of Spring’s party -they cheer me up no end. More so, as living overseas for nearly 14 years, I have not seen snowdrops in the flesh, or the leaf, for that length of time.

The snowdrops were wise and foretold the heavy snowfall we recently experienced. I was saddened to think that their early blooming might be thwarted.  The daffodils also had just come into bud. I wandered, not as a lonely cloud, but as someone breathing in the sights and sounds of something so familiar, yet not experienced for so long. I need not have feared the flowers’ demise, as dainty as they look they are hardy and defied the snow’s assault to continue to bloom and delight. A month on they remain despite their deceiving delicacy. This simple inevitability of Nature’s resilience, of her beauty especially as the stark signs of Climate Change abound the world over, strikes a chord.

The bursting forth of life, almost cartoon like, that characterises Spring, is accentuated after the harshness of winter. Not merely the cold but the barren branches and leaf fall the frostiness and our enforced hibernation. Being in our caves has seemed ever more arduous in lockdown as the comforts of meeting others, hugging away the cold and seeing the (unmasked) smiles of loved ones are denied. To trudge through the deep mud of Winter might have been gruelling. Nature’s wonder has punctuated that on every single walk or adventure. I have marvelled at the skeletal silhouettes of trees, the hues of leaves against grass, the ever-changing skies. It has in the last few weeks, been a comfort to see so clearly that Spring is on her way.

The trumpeters of that have been the emerging Spring bulbs so delicate and defiant. Showing that you can’t judge a book by its cover or seemingly a flower by its petals. I found the notion gratifying. I also realised that it was only the second birthday that my son had spent in the country of his birth; his passport says one thing, but his life and experiences are much more diverse and that includes the seasons. He was due on Valentine’s Day but instead arrived on Carnival, Fat Tuesday to be exact. Fat Tuesday is the day preceding Ash Wednesday known as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day in the UK always in February and February is England is cold.

The date could not be more appropriate as growing up in Brazil he spent his second birthday at Rio Carnival even being serenaded by a gaggle of beautiful girls on Sugar Loaf mountain. I recall friends of mine who were with us for Carnival saying “Where does he go from here?” Well, the answer that evening lay in the arms of a Samba Queen at the Sambadrome celebrations as she held him and told him how adorable he was- a veritable Carnival King!

 As for the pancake part he loves to cook (and eat). So of course, two days after Valentine’s I served up pancakes (the crêpe kind as is traditional in England). In Delhi we have held his birthday parties at the British High Commission – full of fun and games and laughing children, not silver service butlers I hasten to add!

In lockdown birthdays are simpler affairs – no feathers, sequins and parades, no coats of arms of ghurkhas – nevertheless heartfelt (perhaps more so). He was thrilled with his pared down birthday celebration. A cake baked by his sister, parcels sent from friends and family, lots of chocolate (courtesy of his aunt, uncle and cousins, which he immediately shared) a sing a long with godparents, and even a recorded video message from his teacher in Delhi. Walks, talks and sunshine and aptly, for such a sunny Sonny Boy, the warmest day for 4 months or more. He is Nature loving and that fact alone made his day. Blue skies and a slight breeze -he said as we went for a precious excursion that it was his perfect weather. I uttered a silent prayer of thanks.

I guess that is it, to savour the here and now, where you are in place and time. The key being not to compare but finding great happiness in the smallest of things. He has that ability, and I am grateful for it.

February 2021 was a perfect ‘rectangular’ month, the first day of a 28 day month beginning on a Monday and ending on a Sunday. 4 of each of the 7 days of the week, last experienced in 2010 and next in 2027. As with so many myths circulating the airwaves people were heralding it as the only time in 823 years that this would occur. Not so and quite frankly we have had enough myths and social media strangeness to deal with.  Keep it simple, keep it real is a fine maxim. Thus, as an unusual February draws to a close, we march towards Spring and the blessings it bestows, wearing a layer or two less and a smile.

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