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Sunday, 19 February 2012

That Season Just Before Spring

This morning it's misty, the crows caw and a chaffinch was piping, the snow shrinks and a dull green, a thin, light-starved, emaciated mat, greenish brown, is revealed. The snow, frozen to clumps of grey ice, forms slippery hillocks, wet, half melted, treacherous as the speeding mind, desperate as a weapon, to be off.

I am not going to follow this fire or this blade, I am tempering, slowing, I will shoulder an axe, I will lean on a saw, into the patterns of wood, cut a floury path through the branches, smell the resin, listen to the crunch of my boots on the faltering ice. I will gather sticks, my armour against time and the drying of laundry and hopes, remembering smells of dried pine, and warm cotton, the first flowers ripe as coconuts, yellow as corn.

The birds throw themselves from one tree to another, piping and growling and tripping over the twigs and the garden table, the tree-trunks and the matting and drooping of last summer's flowers.

Sap is pushing its way through the trees and buds are already glowing with colour.

The light has stayed so long, and changed everything. The earth scent, the sun going down at a different point in the sky. So the light makes quite different patterns of shade – shadows appear in unexpected places. Sunlight too, carries a rush bag in its arms, and empties it all over the garden, among the fir twigs and larch bark the colour of rust, and thick, like lumps of papier maché.

Morelle Smith

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