Where are the Darling Buds of
Why have the weathermen decided that summer has
arrived just because the clocks were put forward
an hour? British Summer Time isn't the benchmark
for summer to begin; it's the Solstice on 23rd
June. Human rules don't apply to the natural order
of the seasons. There's one way to be sure that
winter is over and that's when Mother Nature decides
the time is right, but she seems to have confused
herself this year- it's the end of April and there's
a pretty cover of violets and primroses along the
hedgerows and river banks that should have been
blooming in February.
Nature's creatures know
instinctively when their
habitats are safe from frost and cold and it isn't
yet - maybe, that's the reason the swallows are
so late and the cuckoo hasn't returned, the
native garden birds; chiff-chaffs, gold finches,
a jay and green woodpecker are still feeding from
seeds that I've scattered for them. Apart from
the seagulls who carry on regardless! Stupid or
what? They're doing what comes naturally in April
and attacking their reflection in the windows,
and their amorous intentions towards the wooden
ducks in the garden is too explicit to
spell out in a family-orientated website.
In Cornwall, there are
age-old customs to celebrate
the season of renewal and the spiral of life and
death. We welcome the light half of the year
in response to the waxing of the sun's strength,
with joyful festivals with flowers, flags, greenery
and dancing, characterising the symbols of potency
and fertility embodied in Flora Day and Padstow's,
'obby 'oss. There are few signs of the
merry month of May and the town's folk will have
to search deep in the woods for bluebells and lily-of-the
-valley, only just beginning to emerge from the
What if mankind has already
decided through greed
and ignorance to upset this natural order? The
forces against it are gathering with bleak foreboding.
Remember last May? It was so cold there wasn't
enough blackthorn blossom to make sloe gin in September.
It's been a harsh year... unremitting cold and
wet, unlike any I've known since living in Cornwall.
I've spoken to local farmers who are worried about
their futures; root crops aren't growing, cereals
are rotting in muddy furrows and animal feed is
being bought in because of the poor grass yield
last summer, added to which, there's the threat
of bullying supermarkets grinding down prices.
We're aware of what is
going on as it's glaring
at us, however, we aren't prepared to pay the price
with our cosy lifestyles. We take for granted the
cycle of the seasons and stumble, myopically, assuming
it will warm up soon. What if it doesn't?
Maybe, the future has arrived and we must face
up to the fact that our climate has already changed.
Think of the winter we've had; flooding, relentless
rain, it was so cold, icicles formed on the branches
in our stream! Climate change sounds remote and
vague in our complacent little world... what's
melting Arctic ice or prolonged drought in Africa
got to do with us? Hold on! We're already suffering
from the symptoms, the illness has been diagnosed
and it's not too painful, apart from moaning
about the hike in fuel costs. We should care
that the condition is hereditary and will be
far more painful for grandchildren and they might
not have a choice when human survival is at stake.
We're desperate for a greener,
cleaner economy but while we're still fortunate
enough to be insulated from the mounting consequences
of climate change, it will remain a remote problem
for others to deal with, when in reality, it demands
the collective power of individuals to take action
and inspire our leaders to fight for our grandchildren.
The fact is, it's already impacting on real people,
animals and our beloved places. Is it melancholic
to recall the lyrics of Pete Seeger's song, 'Where
Have all the Flowers Gone?'.... when will
we ever learn?
That said, what a difference
a day's sunshine makes! My
garden, that has been chiding me for weeks to
come out and play, is weeded and hoed, and the
fields, trees and flowers are waking up, filling
me with so much joy. The lifeless, nutmeg-brown
branches are transformed with a lace-fragile haze
of tender green and the citrus sharpness of the
gorse, mingles with the fluffy, baby-bonnet yellow
of the willow catkins, throwing a shimmer of gauzy
gold over the scrubby, moorland hedges. Perhaps,
spring is just a little late this year!
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