Spring into Summer
8 May 2018
I remember one of the things I found strangest of all living in New York was the absence of a proper spring. Well into April, ice cold winds could blow through the city, and great blizzards would fall. Trees would be bare and dark. In the country, the grass stayed dead-brown, frozen.
And then suddenly in the midst of this eternal winter, spring would arrive in a moment. For a week, blossom trees blossomed, tulips burst out… only, then, in the early weeks of May, for high summer to arrive before you had blinked. The city turned into a thundering heat bowl, temperatures in the 90s; we’d escape whenever we could to the beach, and bask in the boiling sunshine all through to that best and softest of New York seasons – autumn.
One of the joys of moving back to England was spring. Green fields; the slow progress from snowdrops and daffodils to bluebells and blossom. Spring is the longest and happiest of English seasons. But not this year.
On Monday last week I found myself arriving back in London in bitterly cold wind and rain. The brief heatwave had come and gone. We got our scarves and winter coats out again. And then – by the end of the week… back to high summer. Dorset (well, the whole country, as far as I can tell) basked. And on a bank holiday. The weather gods have gone wrong.
The garden was sublime on warm evenings.
Walking Mavis early in the morning, the air was already filled with the promise of real heat.
Trees are wearing their spring coats but the atmosphere was that of high, late summer.
The hills above the village gleamed in a white haze.
Tom Foot’s dairy herd out on warm, lush grass.
Even early in the morning, John Barker’s Longhorn herd made for the shade.
The cow parsley is only just out;
Blossoming cherries still in flower…
Yesterday evening, on a beautiful, still warm night, I was giving a talk at Bridehead to a tent packed full of 200 people, for Breast Cancer awareness. On such a magical evening it seemed like we were in high summer. Nothing could go wrong in the world.
And all seemed to go well. We rolled in to bed late and tired; the alarm clock went very early this morning.
You can imagine how hard it was to tear myself away this morning and back on the train to London. At moments like this, are you with me in wishing for eternal summer, and eternal days of nothing in the garden?