Before I know it, it’s mid May. The most glorious month of the year, I think. Spring, at least in Poland, has its rhythm; a schedule to which all the plants, in the fields, meadows and forests alike, adhere to.
March is a month of snowdrops. The stark contrast of pure, white flowers growing out of half-melted, dirty snow is somehow fascinating. Then come crocuses – juicy yellow and deeply purple, exclamation marks on otherwise barren, muddy brown soil. There is a picture, or shall I say a template, which seems to appear every year on the Polish media with a statement: spring has arrived. The picture shows Dolina Chochołowska in Tatra mountains carpeted with countless purple crocuses.
April is a month of wood anemones, my beloved flowers, the smell of my childhood. I remember the sweet anticipation, the sweetest wait for the wood anemones to bloom. Within few days the still dormant, brown and grey forest is laid with a dense, green carpet which is soon covered with delicate, shy white flowers. To walk into the forest with wood anemones blossoming, to pick a bunch and hide the face in it – is what I consider one of the greatest joys in life. The smell of wood anemones is earthy, fresh; it’s the smell of a mountain stream, of wet wood and soil after the rain. The smell of spring.
And there is May, my favourite of all. The meadows are heavy with maślanki – weedy and not overly impressive flowers, with delicate light purple petals. Picking maślanki with my babcia or mama was one of my favourite pastimes when I was a child. There could not be a spring without maślanki bouquet at home.
But for me May always meant one thing: lily of the valley. I don’t know if it’s this flower’s subtle beauty, or if it’s the almost imperceptible yet somewhat heavy scent, or the fact that they are so very difficult to find. They usually grow on the slight slopes, with more sun exposure than the forest floor, and yet still quite dim, places. My babcia and I would spend hours, riding the bikes alongside the forest edge, trying to spot characteristically long and shiny lily of the valley’s leaves. But even finding a big patch covered with the leaves wasn’t a guarantee to success – many of them did not produce the flower, the ultimate reward, the May’s hidden secret. finding a flower, or – joy! – a few was always a moment requiring admiration in silence. The elegance of the delicate, white flower – few miniature, perfectly shaped tulips on a stalk. The smell – fresh yet somewhat heavy and sickly. Makes you think of lilac flowers: sweet and fresh at first, and overpoweringly heavy after a while. Lily of the valley’s scent is impossible to obtain naturally, as the flower does not produce oil. It’s chimerical, elusive.
Spring in England is also splendid: it starts rapidly and all at once, and it transforms into summer as suddenly and unnoticeably as it started. There is no gradual increase in temperature. There is no gloomy March, often meaning dirty snow and mud. There is no cold and wayward April, with temperatures dropping rapidly and unforeseeably, to much confusion and discontent to everyone involved in growing vegetables. In Poland March and April are often called “sneaky” months, months that shouldn’t be trusted. Here, on the other hand, the seasons change suddenly, overnight. Quite literally, you can wake up on a gloomy Monday, with temperature oscillating around 10 degrees and the sky looking as if it may rain anytime. And yet, on Tuesday morning you may wake up to the bright, cloudless sky, with the sun proudly shining through your curtains. Before you know it, the daffodils go crazy all around town, shortly followed by blooming trees, often planted alongside the roads. It’s all quite pretty, I must say. Overnight the temperature raises from 10 degrees to 23, causing much confusion as to what one should wear, after months of rather sunless days. But after only a week of spring craze and bbq smells around town, we are back to 14 degrees and gloom. The internet produced a few memes announcing R.I.P. summer, which I must say, was quite hilarious.
The photos below are a result to two walks which sole purpose was catching up with the spring. The first trip happened on the Easter Saturday, when me and Żubrek popped to the park in the forest to take photos of the Easter eggs we had decorated a day before, and to check if the wood anemones were already showing. To my astonishment – they were! Which was quite early considering the weather, and incredibly lucky, as I did not have a chance to go to the forest again since then.
The second was a walk around town last week. The sun outside was making me feel unbearably guilty for sitting at home in front of my laptop. That’s the problem with summer for me: although I don’t enjoy the heat, the bright colours outside (looking as if someone applied Vivid filter to the world) are weirdly tempting, making one feel like going outside is the only option to consider. Is it our need for vitamin D? That the first sight of sun makes even the night owls (like myself) experience a sudden urge to go outside? Nonetheless, forced by the sun, I packed my camera ad went for a walk, trying to capture some of the signs of English spring.
Enjoy the spring!