As Winter Gives Way To Spring

deer in the forest

It’s four below zero, but it’s invigorating rather than uncomfortable as the air is so still. The first traces of light are beginning to pierce the dark south-eastern sky with an arc of reds, orange, pinks and yellow.

Sucking in the frigid early morning air I make my way through the Monarch’s Way entrance into Gloucestershire’s Westonbirt Arboretum and head along the long, arrow straight Broad Drive. What feels like a thousand tiny needles on my face is embraced as ahead of me in the mist I catch a glimpse of several of the resident deer darting across the path, heading into the vast array of trees that surround us.

There are far worse ways to start a Tuesday morning.

as winter gives way to spring

While spring, summer and especially autumn are the photogenic poster children of the Arboretum, this year I’ve come to understand that winter has a more subtle beauty that is often overlooked by the fame of its more famous sibling seasons. 

I veer left into Maple Loop. Just a handful of weeks ago this area was awash with a canvas of incredible vibrant colours as the Acers came into their own. Now though they stand silent, shorn of their leaves and skeletal. Instead, and for the first time, I look up to take in the mighty Larch trees that were no more than a backdrop before. At this time of year they become the main focus as the shafts of sunlight from the new day reach out to touch their upper branches high up in the sky.

I press on through the trails wanting to reach my vantage point to watch the sun rising through the neighbouring fields of mist. When I arrive the view doesn’t disappoint. The golden light drives through the silhouetted trees and its warmth hits my face. 

I close my eyes and in that moment feel the very first hints and hopes of the spring about to come. 

snowdrops

Other evidence of an unlocking of the grip of winter are suddenly apparent also, if you decide to look.

As winter gives way to spring, the barren trees are actually now laden with tiny buds, the first signs of renewed life for the new year. Below my feet, Snowdrops are poking through the frozen blades of grass, the hardiest and first flowers of the calendar.

Before we know it, spring will be in full force and the quiet scenes surrounding me will be replaced with a cacophony of colour and noise. Life will return and be in full swing again.

This, I feel, is a true reflection of our times as we endure a third National Lock Down. This winter shall pass. Life will begin anew and we can look forward to better and busier times ahead. 

But this shouldn’t detract us from taking the time to notice where we are at the moment, for all it’s frustrations, and to see that there is a beauty in the silent world we are living through in this strangest of winters.