Thursday just gone marked the point at which the Sun’s meridian crossed the meridian of the Earth and day and night were of equal length, before the hours of daylight begin to exceed the hours of darkness (in the Northern Hemisphere that is: our Antipodean cousins have things the other way around. The Spring Equinox in many ways marks the arrival of Spring and is the focus of Pagan seasonal rites as well as setting the date of Easter – Easter Sunday is of course the first Sunday after the full moon following the Equinox in case you had forgotten.
All around the land is waking up. Daffodils, primroses and celandine have taken over from the snowdrops that seemed to cling on for so long this year; the first blossom is decorating the bare hedgerows and the grass is beginning to grow. The ducks on our pond are beginning to demonstrate courtship behaviour and the gander is getting decidedly stroppy. It is fascinating to watch people exhibiting a deep-seated urge to get outdoors after what has been a mild but so wet and seemingly never-ending winter. Whenever we have had a dry or sunny day during the last few weeks, people have appeared at the park in their droves and you can almost sense the pent-up urge to go outside and feel the sun and wind on their skin that drives them here.
My vegetable garden is on a North-facing slope with an outbuilding shading it from the low Spring sun. My crops are, therefore, usually several weeks behind everyone else’s. I have learned over the six seasons that we have been here that there is no point in starting plants off at the times recommended by the seed packets and gardening books. This year, the constant rain that we have experienced over the past few months and the subsequent water-logging of the soil has meant that I have been unable to get on the ground to do the usual Winter work of soil preparation and compost incorporation until today. I therefore spent part of the afternoon forking over two of the beds, pulling out the roots of perennial weeds in the hope that this might slow their march towards total domination and transferring the contents of the compost bins onto this year’s potato ground. Elsewhere other gardeners with the benefit of more temperate micro-climates are sowing and transplanting, something that I cannot contemplate doing until at least the beginning of May. However, something we have in common is that I am sitting here typing this with a windburned face, sore back and a sense of satisfaction.
A sure sign that Spring has arrived.