I grew up with two seasons: hot and wet, not- so- hot and dry. This second “season” was more tricky. For school, as the frost lay on the pavements waiting to catch me out, I would layer up. Vest (yes even in secondary school it was a necessity in the morning), flesh-coloured tights, long socks, shirt, tie, cardigan firmly buttoned, blazer and then a beret rammed over my ears. Beautiful.
We were not allowed to wear coloured tights or indeed, tights at all so we would scurry quickly past the prefects in case they noticed our sneaky leg wrappings. It was so cold that some of us were driven to even putting on our special P.E. knickers, which no one in their right minds chose to wore but were kept, shoved down deep in our school bags in case those same perverse and sadistic prefects decided to do “regulation underwear checks”.
“Hot” season was easy. You stuffed your panama summer hat into your bag as otherwise it would melt around your ears in the rain and plod home most days in a summer storm, warm rivers of water dripping down your face and hoping that your Geography project would survive.
I can proudly say that the only positive contribution I made to that school was to write bitter, outraged, pleading and empassioned letters to the school editor, begging for the pupils to be allowed to wear just our cardigans to school when it was a tad too chilly for just the dress and a tad too hot for the blazer. Eventually I won. I think they have a completely different uniform now but, there I was, striking out for the hard done-by masses all those years ago.
Now, I fully embrace the UK seasons, even as I look out of the window and watch the relentless rain, deciding when might be the best time for the dog and I to plod resignedly around the block. It’s quite chummy walking a dog in the rain. You squint up from under your rain hood, nod approvingly at the other’s walking gear, smile at each other in a “we’re all in this together” kind of way and then plod on, trying not to get totally soaked by passing cars.
I love the jewelled colours of the trees and the glow of sunlight when we have a better day, the freshness to the air and the urgency of nature as it scurries about, harvesting and collecting for the months ahead.
I walk down to the garden and touch the roses and honeysuckle, finding myself sending mental messages to them all- hang on, it won’t be long. See you soon. The pavements are scattered with chocolate-brown and scarlet leaves and the most gorgeous of all- horse chestnuts gather in spiky clumps. These green thorny dumplings are such a visual reminder of time and its passing. They drop down, their protective casings splitting open to reveal their soft insides and beautiful brown conkers. To me, they look exactly like little green hedgehogs, clustered under trees and on the paths.
Even in the darkest of gloomy days, relentless rain and overcast skies, I can sense the earth’s turning sending a message: soon, soon. Tiny brave snowdrops and violets begin to shiver their way through the boggy ground, signposts that Spring is coming. Then one day, the Earth seems to suddenly burst open with vibrant greens, its arms flung up to clear skies, showering the land with blossom.
Then we hold our breath through Summer, through those long, long days of sand and sticky ice creams, picnics and wasps. We hold our breath and watch the blue skies- “Will it rain today?” We carry on regardless, the summer fairs with books under plastic sheeting to protect them from a sudden shower. Dogs and raincoats both steaming under the shelter of the tea tent whilst the country waits for the shower to pass.
I love the Seasons- all of them,especially when the green hedgehogs begin to roll.