Whoever put together the WordPress ‘365 Days of Writing Prompts’ was getting positively frisky by this stage:
“Turn, turn, turn. For many of us, winter is blossoming into spring…which season do you most look forward to?”
Here in France, the four seasons are quite distinctive, which I suppose makes a pleasant change after our ten years in the Middle East, where it was only ever either hot and sunny or bloody hot and sunny. On the other hand, it was quite nice to wake up in the morning and know for absolute sure that your BBQ wasn’t going to get rained off.
Before we relocated to the depths of the French countryside, I would almost certainly have opted for ‘summer’ in response to this question. A sunny day and some cold rosé and you won’t get many complaints from this particular quarter.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still all for a contemplative cold beverage on a hot day, but the case for summer is no longer so clear-cut, because it now comes with baggage.
Y’see, things grow in the summer. This includes weeds and other unwelcome intruders, which need to be dealt with. And that just leads to gardening stuff. Just can’t warm to it. Sorry.
Of course I’ll do it and I’ll be happy in the knowledge that I have done it. It’s a whole lot better than the resurgent self-loathing that accompanies a failure on my part to do the necessary. Even so, it would be idle to pretend that it’s anything I actively look forward to, or particularly enjoy doing as a process or pastime in itself.
The wheels start to come off as spring approaches. T S Eliot, in ‘The Wasteland’, was right:
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
It wouldn’t be so bad if the said dull roots belonged to something nice to look at, or a nutritious vegetable foodstuff – ideally one that could harvest itself at the appropriate time. Even lilacs would do. Unfortunately, it appears that this year’s dull roots of choice belong chiefly to dandelions. I don’t know why it is, but each year seems to see one particular weed being the dominant force in our little acres. The saving grace for 2017 is that at least it isn’t nettles.
So when the lambs can be seen gambolling in the surrounding fields, the flora starts turning green and the clocks go forward, my thoughts are no longer dominated by the enchanting prospect of long, lazy summer days but more prosaic considerations, such as ‘will the rotavator still work?’ (yes, thankfully) and ‘can I get the strimmer to start?’ (no; bloody thing).
It casts a bit of a pall on proceedings, doesn’t it?
So I can’t have summer as my favourite season. Autumn is better, because at least the dandelions start to die back and the grass stops growing like….well, weeds. There is also the prospect of winter and weather miserable enough to confine me indoors where I don’t have to feel guilty about not doing my horticultural bit.
So now I guess I would have to plump for winter as my favourite season. As Eliot goes on to write:
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow
But one can never totally relax of course, because some smart-arse like Shelley’s got to come along with his ‘Ode To The West Wind’ and gleefully point out:
When winter comes, can spring be far behind?
Oh, bugger off.