Monday, March 9, 2009

In Hopes of Spring.

the bulbs are finally breaking free from the last vestiges of fall

This weekend in London, which alternated between dapper sunshine and whipping rain, I was happily reminded of exactly why we have the seasons. Entering the March-May stretch once more, I am sure now that there is nothing more rejuvenating and exhilarating than watching the world transform and regrow every single year, again and again, against all odds.

When I first moved away from home in Texas to live in Italy for two years, one of the first things I noticed were the dramatic seasons. Northeast Italy is a place of extreme climate - bitter cold and searing heat, mitigated only by a vibrant, verdant, irrepressible springtime that makes you want to cry it's so beautiful.

That middle-season, with its childlike wonder and serendipity, seemed to entrance everyone - young and old - every year, without fail. And while the pruned branches grew buds which became flowers which bore fruits, a million loves and interactions unfolded joyously again: walks outside, running races, ocean swimming, Al Fresco eating. Hidden gardens carefully rearranged themselves, dusted off the brown, downy coverings of winter and fluffed up the most striking of plumages. And even on the streets, the asphalt gave way to incorrigible little flowers who, determined to break free of the most unrelenting of confines, grew in pot holes, cracks in stones, and sides of walls.

flowers budding and blooming all around

It was clear something was in the air when I was woken up at 3am on Saturday night to the sound of two Nightingales. Perched in the trees directly outside our bedroom window, the two birds seemed to be having a singing contest to announce the coming of beautiful things, of Spring. The next day, Matt and I took a walk through the park - in part to make sure I don't sink entirely into the involuntary sloth of late pregnancy, but mostly to see if the Nightingales were right, if our neighborhood had yet been transformed.

Living close to a park which follows the river Thames and boasts two impressive strolling paths lined with what appear to be highly ancient London Plane Trees (or what I like to call "the knobby trees"), has great perks, especially in the Spring. A soothing combination of open fields, water, paths and seemingly ad hoc gatherings of wild and not-so-wild flowering plants and bushes, our park is exactly everything a British neighborhood park should be. It even has a small cafe which opens based entirely on good weather conditions and which serves tea and scones (I'll be back with Ludovictus, mark my words :) ).

a perfect stroll among the Planes...

The British are particularly adept at creating beautiful strolling parks. Matt and I both commented how so few American parks are as relaxing as most British ones we've seen. American parks, it seems, are created for exercise and active recreations, while British parks are meant for strolling, wandering, and picnicking in that very British Jane Austen sort of way that Americans are generally in far too much of a rush to replicate. So we strolled, and all along the way I found a million things to be glad about, not least of which was the constant rumbling in my tummy reminding me that I too would soon partake in one of the most amazing, transformative, and life-giving rituals known to all living things.

Here are just a few of the aesthetically pleasing springtime creations Matt and I observed on our walk this weekend. Consider it the official primer for the series of culinary and cultural posts to follow, all, of course, In Hopes of Spring.

* * *

* * *

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and from moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

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  1. British parks are lovely - I live right near Regents and can't wait till all the roses are in bloom there. I can feel spring itching too - little green buds are appearing on the trees that line the street I live on.

    While I agree that American parks are much more activity oriented I desperately miss the National Parks where you can drive or hike for hours without seeing another soul.

  2. Touche. :) I should have definitely qualified the statement by specifying neighborhood parks and leaving out State and National parks...I miss them too!

  3. I needed this lovely composition! Today was rather dreary - a harbinger of another winter storm approaching. I've been droopy and listless but cannot blame a third trimester. Your photos are a beautiful reminder that spring WILL arrive, perhaps a little later in Minnesota than in Britain!