Early Spring Diary
One of the many aims of Swansea News Network is to remind us of our connection with nature. We and nature are, after all, one and the same and our very lives depend on it. Jim Young has kindly offered to write a regular monthly nature diary to enliven our minds. So let’s get a spring in our step as we start with March…
February ended with an easterly wind tearing a bridesmaid’s lace to shreds, tossing it off the breaking waves and flinging it in the face of the winter swimmers.
The walk down the beach for my daily swim at low tide in Rotherslade is always the low point of winter. Although, as we progress into March the sea is warming slightly to about 9 degrees centigrade, and if you stay in long enough, it is refreshingly bracing. But with the rough energetic waves, swimming is not possible, just snatched strokes between the breakers in shallow water. Under, over, stand up, duck down, surf in; are all the modes and moods of the sea for the purple all year around sea swimmer. Still too cold to risk going out of my depth. Grey sky, biting wind, and rain are the challenges to be faced down at this time of the year, but after drying off back at my beach hut in Rotherslade the benefits are starting to shine through. That invigorating, yet relaxing feeling of having swum on another winter’s day. Sometimes ticking the box and sometimes sheer joy. Quite often the sun will push through for a moment and the restless foam is silvered bright against a purple-black horizon across the channel, and to be there in the roaring waves piling up like granite steps into the sky, is the stuff of dreams.
Suddenly we have March winds and scudding white clouds in a blue sky. The blue as welcome as the pristine yellow, blending coy in the bending daffodils. The sun, when the wind drops, is spring-like and so uplifting. Then, the next day, February walks on stage for a final bow, swirled in sad mists and tearful drizzle. The rough sea abates to a languid swell in sympathy with the demise of February, before March rattles the sticks be gone! Let the buds see the sun and wax stronger as the days lengthen, ever so slightly. Above the daffodils, the flowering currants are blushing and in the silver birch, the magpies are busy snapping off wispy twigs for their nests. Hugging the grass banks, the Easter chick yellow primroses are bonneting the butter mornings.
Then March, as fickle as ever, is blowing up a storm of showers and hail to flail everything in its way and squeezing the juice from the spring day to leave a sodden sponge of melancholy. Gargantuan skies parade to high heaven. The bluetiful crocuses have lost the bet again and lie disheveled, an army at the last post trooping the colour and saluting the lucky few who have seen the changing of the guard. Light the log fire and stretch the cat to dream of the way springs were when she was a kitten. But there are not going to be many more of these fireside dreaming evenings as the days lengthen, and none too soon we say!
The wild garlic is ignoring all of this and slowly, ever so slowly, is bursting a sward of green and the occasional white blossom laying on the shaded corners and moss carpeted stone walls, dappled in sunshine.
Then I come across a sea of Celandine pouring through the gravestones in Oystermouth cemetery, sprinkled like pollen and shining in the flashes of sunshine. Tall daffodils in twos or threes are tapping the code of spring upon the headstones warming their lives in a secluded silence out of the wind.
When the sea is rough it wrinkles flared nostrils and spits defiance at all who venture in. Waves and white drool torment, and hiss with rage at the downtrodden sky. Then it’s calm again, all is forgiven. The cat sea, catcher, hackles smoothing, claws at the driftwood and swoons away to sleep, flat out on the sandy bay. The heady perfume from the gorse, kissed by the sun, pours down upon the day, but we must turn away for dinner, to feast upon the joys of March.
April, come she will …
Jim Young is a writer and poet living in Swansea. Jim’s poetry can be seen here: Bait The Lines.
His autobiography, ‘Growing up in the Lower Swansea Valley: Memoirs of a naughty boy in the 50s and 60s’ is available at Amazon.
You can listen to Jim reading his poems on YouTube.
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His poetry can be seen here: http://baitthelines.blogspot.co.uk/
His photography can be seen here: http://jimyoung14.blogspot.co.uk/
Jim has also written a biography of his childhood in the Lower Swansea Valley: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Growing-Lower-Swansea-Valley-Memoirs/dp/1530977746