May 05 2020

Favourite sign of spring

As a volunteer historical researcher and photographer for the Londonthorpe Woods project – a joined effort of the Woodland Trust and the National Trust (Belton House) near Grantham, Lincolnshire, and a photographer of wherever in the country Estelle Slegers Helsen spots a Woodland Trust wood, she started writing a new blog series: Love in the Time of Corona. In her forth entry she writes about her favourite sign of spring. You can read more of her writing visiting her website: www.newtraces.uk

 

Favourite sign of spring

Love in the Time of Corona #4 | Monday, 30th March 2020

 

Warning! This story starts with a stupid joke, a brief conversation between two Dutch people talking in English. It goes like this… On a beautiful sunny late March morning a man meets another guy walking opposite in a quiet street and says: “Spring is in the air!” The guy is looking a bit puzzled and asks: “Why should I?”. End of the story… See, I warned you! Well, let me explain: ‘spring’ in Dutch is a verb, meaning ‘jump’… Are you still with me? So, now a bit serious again.

 

Just a few days after the vernal equinox, March 20th, springtime popped up. Last Monday to Friday we enjoyed five days in a row with glorious sunshine, although the early morning air felt chilly and a slightly shivering frost covered the awakening landscape. Yes, I went out each morning to catch the first light and the sunrise. And while out, ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth came to mind. Interesting concepts, no? The pagan culture celebrates spring equinox, when the length of the day and the night are equal, as the time of renewed earthly life, symbolised by Ostara, or Eostra, an Anglo-Saxon/Germanic goddess who represents dawn. As a spring goddess she oversees the budding plants and burgeoning fertility of the earth.

 

So, for five days I had the perfect opportunity to jump in the car, equipped with my camera and tripod, and drive to one of the 1,000+ Woodland Trust sites, to make pictures for their communications, in print and online. Exactly, now is the time to shoot new leaves emerging, birds building nests, catkins of willow, hazel and alder, frogspawn or tadpoles in ponds, fluttering butterflies in the sun, you name it… But, in these days, that would be non-essential travel, so we were advised by the Trust’s Media Library Manager, to postpone our photography sessions until further notice.

 

Unfortunately, there is no Woodland Trust wood I can access from my home without driving unless I go for a more than 10 miles hike, one way. Of course, there are some woods within walking distance, but they are private, a no-go. But, let’s not complain and enjoy the sprouting hedgerows, an old solitary tree, or some scrub around a mud pool, and feel the sun’s warmth on my back when walking, listen to the cry of a buzzard that takes advantage of thermals to extend its flight time in search of food, count the popping daisies in a meadow field, and observe the fighting geese in a wind-rippled pond. How about you? What is your favourite sign of sping?

 

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