Restraint and Resurrection
I made a big pan of scouse so spud proud you could stand a spoon up in it. ‘That’s the last meal of winter,’ I announced. My confidence was misplaced: in spite of the growing light, the activities of the birds and the massed green spears of barely opening daffodils - all proclaiming springtime - it has been colder than at any time in the winter. But I should be used to our unreliable and incongruous seasons - last April I was writing about butterflies followed by blizzards.
This early March, St John’s Gardens has a swept and pristine feel to it. Pigeons perch on the surrounding rooftops and there is a solitary gull on top of a statue. Waiting, The air is clear and cold and you can see bare earth around the memorials. I was struck by the incongruities: the bright patches of restrained spring flowers interspersed with wooden crosses and artificial poppies. The poppies are always going to be anomalous: this scarlet flower of summer became the emblem of remembrance for the Lost Generation. It is mass produced in the wrong shade of red for our November mourning - extended by further wars since the War to End all Wars didn’t fulfil its promise.
As I write in this elegiac mood, the cardinals, allegedly with the help of the Holy Spirit, are choosing the next Pope. It is hoped that the successor will clear away the horror of abusive power and that there will be a spiritual resurrection: a fitting sentiment as Easter approaches.
Easter: a festival in which, whatever the weather, we celebrate the regeneration of the spirit as well as of the earth.
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*Also known as Rose Bay Willow Herb, the prolific wild flower called Fireweed, five feet tall with spikes of magenta flowers, cheers the hearts of those whose cityscape has become a bomb site or whose buildings have been cleared by machine. The dormant seeds spring to life after destructive events such as forest or man-made fires, hence the name, Fireweed. This occasional column will celebrate the persistence of wildlife in urban conditions.
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