Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The mixed blessings of spring

Blessings are never unmixed, are they?

There’s a real feeling of well-being in the fact that Spring has at last got going (well, it has for us in the Northern Hemisphere: I can only send commiserations to friends in Australia, South Africa or Latin America.)

It really is spring, too. That in-between season, when it’s gloriously warm in the sun, but in the shade or after sunset, the cold comes back in all its crispness. The French sum it up by saying that the ‘fond de l’air’ isn’t fully warm yet. That roughly translates as ‘the bottom of the air’ though the original is a little more, well, elegant. Either way, the idea is exactly right: we’re not yet in summer when the whole of the air is warm and we can sit outside in shirt sleeves and enjoy the balmy evenings even after the sun has gone.

The spring is also the best time of year in England (we don’t really do summers, anyway – we just get milder rain). Right now, the leaves are beginning to unfurl, the grass is bright green and tree after tree is erupting in different colours of blossom. It all happens so suddenly too: at the end of March we drove to Edinburgh and noticed how few lambs there were in the fields; on the way back, we saw several flocks with lambs among them; this weekend, driving to Oxford, we saw lambs everywhere.

What was particularly surprising about Oxford, though, was how far ahead they were there. Less than two hours south, they’re a week or two ahead in leaves and blossom (the cherry is flowering already). At least it tells us what we can look forward to.

So it’s a wonderful time of year. But blessings are never pure, as I said: the grass is a glorious green, but it’s also growing. And that means getting the mower out.

Mowing grass is one of those particularly tedious tasks like doing the washing up. You’d like to be able to get ahead of the game but you never can. Once you get started on washing up, it’s fairly easy to keep going, isn’t it? The difficulty is deciding to plunge into the ghastly task. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could wash all the dishes twice or three times and then not have to do them at all for a few days?

The same thing occurred to me as I attacked the grass last weekend. I went over it again and again. Somewhere deep in my subconscious must have been the feeling that if I could really get the grass licked, good and proper, once and for all, it might think twice about growing back too fast.

Doesn’t work. It was already looking unkempt again on Tuesday. I’ll be getting the mower out again far sooner than I’d like and having to work up the energy to start the process all over. It’s taught me that having only a small garden isn’t a wholly bad thing: at least the mowing doesn’t take too long.

From which I conclude that though blessings don’t come pure, fortunately nor do curses.

Completely irrelevant postscript. I used to find it funny that Japanese speakers referred to their mothers as ‘haha’. Of course that’s only amusing to Westerners. But then I discovered that in Japanese ‘ha’ is a tooth.

One tooth is just a tooth, but two teeth is a mother?

What does that indicate about the mordant nature of maternal relations in Japan?


Anonymous said...

can I propose core of the air, or even the skeleton of the air instead?
what do you mean about washing up and lawn mowing being awful? I happen to like both, keeps me fit and ... warm.

Anonymous said...

signed san

Awoogamuffin said...

"What does that indicate about the mordant nature of maternal relations in Japan?"

ho ho ho!