For me, Spring is the real start of a new year. Gone are the monochrome, dreary winter days and colour is reintroduced into our lives. Slowly but surely the trees begin to change, no longer the bare, dark skeletons from horror films, but multicoloured giants from fantasy. The transformation is beautiful. The warmer weather ushers in the more soothing Spring breezes, carrying upon it the scents of new life and the renewal of a cycle that has been played out over millennia.
Now, more than ever before, I look forward to the warmer weather and the changing scenery. Like most of the mammals in the world, I have hibernated over the winter months, rarely leaving the house or even venturing outside. I have stared out of the windows and watched the winter play out; raining, snowing or both. I had heard the winds tearing at the trees at the back of my garden and the frost icing over their bare branches. Winter made me a prisoner and Spring is the start of my freedom, albeit a limited one.
My accident has denied me so much that I used to take for granted. Although I have a wheelchair, sitting in it and going anywhere is painful beyond belief. The vibrations as the wheels travel over uneven surfaces cause my back to spasm, the result of a botched diagnosis has left my dieing spinal chord hypersensitive. The result is unrelenting pain. Pain I no longer wish to experience and so I hide away, not daring to move and never leaving my house.
Spring, however, means that I can venture into my garden and feel fresh air over my face and breathe in all the fragrances of the new season. I am fortunate that I live in a rural part of the country and often see deer and foxes amongst the trees. But it is the trees that capture my imagination. I often sit and wonder what they have experienced in their long, silent lives. Many of the trees near me are old oaks, probably dating from before the first World War and would have been around as London was bombed into ruins. I will never know for sure, but I can imagine. Oaks are wonderful trees being full of character, rugged bark, spreading branches and thick, rugged trunks. They are usually the home to a myriad number of animals from squirrels to birds and everything in between.
As spring progresses, I will watch the oaks grow their canopies of green leaves and see the acorns form and grow. They look stunning, standing there, massive, dwarfing the pines and cedars. I always think of them as the trees with spirits. Fantasy books describe dryads and their attachment and life-bond to their trees and those trees I imagine to be oaks. It suits them.
Come September, the start of Autumn, their long, silent vigil over this area will be over. The land has been sold to a building company who will build community housing. The old oaks are in the way. They take up too much land and their roots run long and deep. They cant be allowed to jeopardise the building of the new houses. They will probably be cut down, not allowed to show their golden autumn colours and have their fruits collected by the squirrels that live in them. The squirrels will have to find a new home and somewhere else to find their food. The oaks that have watched time pass silently will watch no more. Their old lives are over and their hearts sold to be pieces of expensive furniture or beams in a refurbished barn.
Fortunately, I wont be here to see it. I will have been moved as the house I am in will be demolished as well.
Next winter is going to be a long one and there will be no spring for the trees at the end of my garden. For me, next spring will be bittersweet. But life goes on. For some of us.