The news is, that yesterday I found my three ultimate signs that Spring has finally arrived on the patch in its completeness! Three very different creatures, the sight or sound of which suddenly and unexpectedly broke through into my world; they were simultaneously lovingly familiar and made strange and unrecognisable through absence. They made my heart swell with joy, like welcoming an old friend, long awaited but arriving without warning.
The first was the chiffchaff, unseen, but heard calling from bushes at the edge of wasteland beside the carpark. Filtering through the sounds of traffic, of building refurbishment and of children and chatter of passers by, the distinctive two-note call that will so soon become a metronome marking the passing of long summer days, was distinctly sweetened by novelty this early in the year.
The second came almost as soon as I acknowledged the first. A pale yellow flicker that became more defined with each flash of colour; a brimstone butterfly, the first fresh lemon-hued butterfly of spring. It patrolled back and forth along the far edge of the rubble strewn patch of land where the now redundant community hall had once stood. Two more butterflies flittered through my day, a small tortoiseshell and a red admiral, both beautiful, but lacking something of the pristine newness of the brimstone.
The third came later, in the full warmth of the afternoon. In a winding band of communal garden between the road and a block of flats, a sun baked bank was thick with winter-flowering heather, in shades of mauve and white. Each dome of flowers was thronging with visitors; bees.
Mostly honey bees with slender waists and eager appetites for the sweet nectar of the heather, but between them were the fat-bottomed girls, the queen bumblebees freshly emerged from hibernation. They clumsily clambered around the blooms, taking on fuel to kickstart their challenge of producing a new colony. A queen tree bumblebee, distinctive with her ginger thorax and white tail separated by black, rose from the heather and drifted away, veering this way and that as she fought to keep her large bulk airborne.
At the end of the day, as the sunset cooled the day, slowly without the sudden chill of winter evenings, I meandered slowly home, reluctant to shut myself behind closed doors and relinquish the day's natural joys just yet. In a garden the still leafless branches of a small tree scratched the sky, a blackbird sat amongst them, singing his lullaby, long missed during his winter silence. I smiled, satisfied now to turn for home, comforted by the thought that the sun would rise higher tomorrow, the butterflies and bees would emerge again and the chiffchaff would call his name again with growing confidence as he grew more familiar with his summer home.
There is no turning back from spring now, from here each day will bring new exquisite joys that cannot be dampened by even the sharpest march winds or showers!