Sandy’s Garden ... The Arrival of Spring

“Printemps est arrive / Pour fleurir les cerisiers; / Nature s’est réveillée / Pour appeler l’été”

By Sandy Simpson
Monday, 9th March 2020, 9:30 am

This, the first verse of a French children’s song, literally translates into English as: “Spring has arrived / To flower cherry trees; / Nature woke up / To call summer.” Hmmm. I can readily imagine young French children singing their version: but I can’t think too many British youngsters will be keen to sing the rhyme in its English translation!

This musing was prompted by the sight, yesterday, 7 March, of the first spring lambs I have seen this year. But these lambs weren’t cavorting around, gambolling and frolicking in the early spring sunshine, however: no, they were snuggled up in the lee of their mothers, trying to hide from the biting wind. Still, they were the first of this season’s lambs which I have noticed.

And my recollection of the first poem brought to mind a second rhyming composition on the subject of spring. This one may have come from Brooklyn, that district of New York described on Wikipedia in these words: ‘Brooklyn is a borough of New York City, coterminous with Kings County, located in the U.S. state of New York, the most populous county in the state, and the second-most densely populated county in the United States. It is New York City’s most populous borough, with an estimated 2,582,830 residents in 2018. It is noted for its very urban dialect and was introduced to me through the writings of Damon Runyan, whose best-known work nowadays is ‘Guys and Dolls’ – although perhaps his work is better described as ‘the inspiration for Guys and Dolls.’ There are as many variations on this rhyme as I have had hot dinners; and of those I have heard, my personal favourite is: “Spring has sprung, da grass has riz, / I wonder where da boidies is? / Da little boids is on da wing. / Hey, wait a minute, dat’s absoid / because da wings is on da boids!”

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Sandy Simpson

And birds have indeed been on the wing, for my garden has had its twice-yearly visit from a small flock of great tits; I don’t know where they come from and I don’t know where they are going, but they visit my garden, briefly, in the course of their spring and autumn journeys. Their flitting around my small trees and shrubs encouraged me to look more closely than I have for some time at what was happening in the plant world; and, sure enough, the signs of spring are everywhere. The Christmas roses outside my back door have almost passed, but the first of the daffodils are in full bloom, standing up remarkably well to being buffeted by icy blasts. In less sunny locations … for my back door enjoys the sun almost any time it shines at this season of the year … the heads of other daffodils are colouring up and, encouragingly, a lot of the tulips have broken cover, some growing quite vigorously while others still seem a bit shy about appearing in public. The pansies which share pots with many of the tulips have been slower than I had expected to add colour to the garden: but a growing number (this pun is overused and hackneyed – ed.) are adding small splashes of mainly yellow and purple hues to an ever-greening scene. Suddenly a large camellia has revealed a fine flourish of bright red buds, auguring well for a fine show of flowers in the near future; and, inevitably, more different varieties of weeds than most weed killer manufacturers have heard of are putting in an unwanted appearance, sprouting up in all-too-familiar locations in many cases but also poking their heads up in some unexpected places.

Yet even the weeds are welcome … well, less unwelcome than they will soon become … as heralds of better times; the spring wakes us, nurtures us and revitalises us – I hope!