Stop. Take a deep breath and look around you.
It is slow and almost imperceptible, but we are embarking on one of the best times of the year. The air is warmer, the ground is drier and people are reappearing as if from hibernation. The human body evolves from being round shouldered and hunched and shapeless under many layers of clothes, into a taller and more recognizably human shape. The speed of travel also changes from hasty, hurrying steps towards a slow saunter. It seems like the most natural thing to exchange gossip and smiles as the sun warms the air around us.
As the clouds scurry across the sky and the rain changes to sun and back again in the blink of an eye, the countryside awakes. Among the bleached neutral colours, bright splashes of colour begin to appear. It always seems like a miracle when bare branches start to produce buds, and in the space of a few weeks colour appears – amazing, riotous colour. Bright yellow and gold daffodils flourish even when the wind bites, and then bright pink and white blossoms emerge on the trees, and dark brown ground turns emerald green as the grass starts to grow.
The lengthening daylight triggers significant shifts. Animals are intensely affected by this time of year and undergo transformations. Hormones respond to the increase in light by causing major behavioural and physiological changes. Horses become difficult as they shed thick woolly coats and become much more interested in the world around them. They roll with gusto, not just to help shed thick itchy and needless hair, but for the sheer joy of “being naked”, as it is now possible to leave rugs off, leaving tell-tale splashes of hair on the drying mud.
Horses are not the only animals that are affected by the warmth. All animals experience some adjustments which are easy to witness as their behaviours alter to take in the changes that are going on all around them.
Birdsong becomes especially sweet and vigorous, and to pinpoint the source of the song you have to look high up into topmost branches as the birds sing to attract mates and start another cycle of the earth’s story.
This is also a special time for dogs. While they may not suffer through the huge physiological changes the equines experience going from hairy to sleek, they are not immune to the hormonal information overload. They don’t have as much liberty as the other animals that live apart from humans, but the tempos of their everyday lives alter too. This is the time when their noses work overtime as they experience the transitioning of the earth through smell and respond by burying their heads into bushes which are feathered with green.
Nature is flexing her muscles and preparing for the ultimate transition. Dark is turning to light just like a fairy story come to life.
All of this activity adds up to one amazing season – we have lift off: it is spring!