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Looking for spring

Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
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on Wednesday, 17 April 2013
Usually, by this stage, there are wild signs of the Scottish spring. The earth stirs from its dormant slumber and all the portents are of life and growth. This year, everything is still cold and dark. The oyster-catchers have come in from the coast, for their annual visit. This is usually a moment of hat in the air celebration, as I hear them singing like drunken sailors all night, but even they are subdued at the moment. They wander dolefully about by the burn, looking at each other in bafflement, as if to say: Where is the joyful April sun? The other birds, who would normally be singing their heads off, are silent.

I pick my way through the muddy paddock, trashed after the hard winter, looking for tiny green shoots of grass. The horses, still on hay, dream of verdant pasture. The daffodils resolutely refuse to come out and the snowdrops, which are flowering, lower their heads apologetically. I stare very hard at the garden, looking for signs of hope. The geraniums are poking their green leaves up from the black soil and the cheering hellebores are blooming, but everything else is still shut up for the duration.

Looking on the bright side: the great advantage of there being no grass yet is that there is at least some delightful mud in which to have a really good roll.Looking on the bright side: the great advantage of there being no grass yet is that there is at least some delightful mud in which to have a really good roll.

Spring is having to be internally generated this year. There is no actual blossom, so there can only be the metaphorical kind. I start a new project, dream of the tree-planting programme which is growing in my head, and plot for the summer riding with my mare. I go up to HorseBack UK, where a group of Personnel Recovery Officers are visiting, to see the work at first hand. They shrug off the Scottish dreich, caring not a jot for the rain and high winds. They are so excited and delighted by what they have seen that a bit of weather cannot dampen their spirits. This kind of rampant positivity is contagious, and I come away heartened.

Our one moment of blue sky, with the last of the snow finally coming off the mountain.Our one moment of blue sky, with the last of the snow finally coming off the mountain.

The sun will return eventually. The birds will sing and the flowers will flower and the grass will grow. The heavy winter rugs will finally come off the horses’ backs and they can kick up their heels. In the meantime, I have my sturdy boots and my most excellent rainy day hat. There is no such thing as wrong weather, only wrong clothes.

Admittedly, the sun did come out on Monday. As if embarrassed by its own exuberance, it ran away again pretty quickly, and crazed western winds blew in to threaten the Wellingtonias. But at least it reminded us what it is capable of. There is blue sky in there somewhere, behind the dour clouds. In the meantime, I’m going to generate internal sunshine by having a little bet the lovely Hunt Ball in the 3.55 at Cheltenham. Spring springs for all of us in its own way.

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