Searching for Spring

Signs of new life in southern England.

I don’t remember watching for spring before last year. I missed it then, and I’m determined not to miss it this time ’round.

So here I am, sitting in the C carriage of the 14.05 from Paddington to Penzance*, gazing out of the window at the astonishing loveliness of the south Devon coast that some beneficent railway engineer decided should be in view of the train. I am searching for signs of greenery on the trees, as I listen to a Lemon Jelly song that makes me think of warm earth and hope.

Looking for spring in London, my new home, is cheating. The city microclimate means it’s a few degrees warmer than anywhere else in the southeast of England; the effect is that of a hothouse in the sun. Nonetheless, I was secretly delighted to absentmindedly look out the window of the top deck of a bus last week and see a blossoming tree pop suddenly into view. I was even more delighted when I realized that had I not turned my head at that exact moment, I wouldn’t have seen it.

Yesterday I sat under the meditating feet of Gandhi’s statue in Tavistock Square and watched the tulips bloom as I ate my sandwich; today I noticed tiny green leaves on a tree in Russell Square.

But spring in London is, as I say, cheating. That’s why I’m so diligently seeking leaf and flower out here in the unspoiled countryside of my birthplace. It’s not here, yet, but it will be.

*(Eds: For Yanks like us, we’re pretty sure that means “the 2:05 p.m. train from Paddington to Penzance”)

Article © 2007 by Clare Jonas