It’s with a sense of excitement that I enter the wood today. My calendar tells me it is the first day of spring. Long anticipated, the moment has come, and the sun is out. I still need a scarf and mittens, but my nose is not cold and the wind, blowing last autumn’s leaves, is not sharply biting. Instead of tumbling in winter waves, the leaves are being picked up individually to cartwheel across the woodland floor; if you are not specifically watching them, they catch the eye and bring to mind mice darting through the leaf litter. After a season on the ground, much of the weight has gone from the leaves. They have become like tissue paper; no longer a resounding crunch as I walk through them, instead a gentle rustle.
Arriving at camp, I hear bird song. It doesn’t take long to locate the robin, close by in the branches of a hazel, belting out the notes; a streak of orange against the bare trees as it sings for spring. I walk quietly past not wanting to disturb, and alongside me walks my shadow, a welcome companion that I notice because it has been absent for a while. The sun is warm where it touches, but where it does not, there is still a chill.
The change I was hoping for is here, though subtle. It reminds me of the stage netting pulled over sleeping beauty’s castle, a scattered growth of foliage over the grey. The bluebells, which have been shoots for so long, are now leaves; the woodland floor looks, from a distance, as though filled with thick tufts of lush grass. There are curtains of green too, hanging swathes of honeysuckle lattice, dotted with spring-green sprays. Bird song filters through the trees and I catch the scent of fox in the air. The sun is still quite low in the sky and it flickers through branches as I walk, but there is a new mood in the wood. From now on the days will be longer than the nights, the temperatures will rise and the wood will wake from its winter rest; the long-awaited spring is beginning.