February 18, 2012


The first of the spring bulbs are coming into bloom, using the energy they store under the ground to power their way through the cold soil so they can take advantage of the light before the trees they usually grow beneath come into leaf. It's a key moment for me, and for many people: the first flowers of the new year, and the first nectar for early insects. Spring starts here.

Each year I pick an early snowdrop and bring it into the house; my mum used to do the same. I've been thinking recently about these little rituals, and how important they can be in marking the cycle of the year: for me, seeing my first swift is a sign of summer. Kissing under the mistletoe is a remnant of an old tradition of dressing houses in evergreen leaves (holly and ivy too) for Christmas. We should do more of this kind of thing.

Every autumn conkers find their way into my pockets, and in summer I like to pick sweet peas to put in vases; a search of my house would also turn up pine cones, skeleton leaves, dessicated pussy willow twigs, honesty seed pods, interesting stones, feathers and all sorts of other natural treasures that I've picked up and haven't quite been able to let go.

Scandinavian countries celebrate midsummer and midwinter with bonfires, and until quite recently, we did too. I'd like to find more ways to mark the changing seasons, and maybe bring a little bit of the outdoors in at key times of the year. It's a good way to stay in touch with nature, especially in a city.