I am much in need of something to cheer me up.
It’s cold outside my windows, a bone-chillingly damp cold which seems to pay scant attention to the supposed insulation of my largely triple-glazed windows. It’s raining, lumps of cold, near-sleety water tumbling out of a uniformly-grey sky, some of them caught by the biting wind and slobbering down the glazing of the patio door to access a saturated doorstep. The forecasters predict that the wind will increase later in the day to include gusts of Force 7 on the Beaufort scale … that’s 32–38 mph … with the real possibility of Force 8 gusts for a time. Such winds make walking unpleasant and quite simply destroy any umbrellas with which optimistic people with strong arm and shoulder muscles try to fend off the driven rain. My garden is sopping; it’s needing some tender, loving care: but it’s not getting any today, neither from the weather nor from me!
So I am much in need of something to cheer me up. It will have to be a mixture of recollection and imagination, for there’s nothing remotely cheering about the weather and, on a day when no-one who does not need to venture out is likely to leave the house; when there’s nothing which I want to watch on television; and when even my not-inconsiderable library will not furnish me with a book which I really want to read right now, I must try to summon up some happy thoughts. So let’s think ‘yellow,’ for yellow seems to me to be the colour of spring, a warm, happy colour, ‘the most luminous of all the colors of the spectrum. It’s the color that captures our attention more than any other color’ to quote from the American website Color Matters ‘It’s the color of happiness, and optimism, of enlightenment and creativity, sunshine and spring,’ that website continues, proving that it’s not only me who associates the colour ... let’s spell the word properly! … with springtime.
Let’s start with the wonderful displays of daffodils which are springing into bloom at this time of year, somewhat ahead of schedule after a relatively mild winter, their bright, jovial, trumpet-like flowers brightening up many a drab scene. Harbingers of better days to come, there are daffodils in my garden which are about to be joined in bloom by several species of tulip, some of which will also carry bright yellow flowers. Another inhabitant of my own garden, a forsythia which was one of the first shrubs we planted after we bought the house, is also showing the buds which will soon burst open to reveal another mass of yellow flowers. This shrub is named in honour of the 18th century Scottish botanist William Forsyth who was a founding member of the Royal Horticultural Society. Our example is now more than 45 years old and, frankly, this may well be its final spring.
I have neither primulas nor pansies in my present garden: but the enthusiastic volunteers of Burgh Beautiful Linlithgow … who form a distinct part of Linlithgow Civic Trust and work with the local community to enhance the local environment … have decorated their town with innumerable pansy displays; and it will not be long before the well-named buttercup puts in an appearance – a welcome appearance if you enjoy its cheerful presence but an unwelcome appearance if the plant has found a foothold for its roots in your lawn. And let’s not forget rapeseed, perhaps better known locally as oilseed rape, that bright-yellow flowering member of the same plant family as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, which is grown by farmers for its oil-rich seed and is the third-largest source of vegetable oil in the world. Hay fever sufferers won’t share my liking for the acres of vivid yellow flowers which will soon appear in local fields – but I’ll try not to think about them; and I’ll try to ignore yellow’s link with illnesses like jaundice and malaria. Cheers!