Wood Anemone in the rain by Hannah Foley. All rights reserved (www.hannah-foley.co.uk)
Wood Anemone in the rain

It is April and the rain continues to poor. Growers and farmers bemoan the wet and the burgeoning mollusc population. I looked for those precious bright days that often pepper March, but they did not appear. Anyone who works outside is weeks behind on their jobs, grounded by squelching mud and saturated soil.

Memories from 2020 pop up on my phone. A glorious spring in those awful early months of the pandemic. Didn’t we need it? My heart turns up its own store of memories from the day we brought Little Owl home, just forty-eight hours old, delicate March sunshine warming her face.

Winter felt long and grey and wet, now spring seems much the same. Coughs and snotty noses linger. Middler wondered aloud, when his cold would ever end.

Despite it all, the flagpole cherry at the bottom of the garden and the young pear tree are both blossoming. We excitedly spot wood anemones in the Old Wood at Pocket and wood sorrell where we have cleared selected pines in the Plantation. These plants are both indicators of ancient woodland and salve for our souls.

But the wet stalls us there too. The path to the growing field is too boggy for my wheelbarrow. I’m itching to ferry woodchip to mulch the newly planted hedgerow and coppice. Instead, we clear hanging dead wood from the Pine Plantation and make great stores of firewood. We watch the water as it runs off the top field and down the hill, ponder about springs (of the bubbling up from under ground sort), and make plans for ponds, ditches and drainage channels. Careful water management is only going to become more important in the changing climate. This spring reinforces that. But we can’t embark on a thing until it stops raining.

Slowly, slowly, my fretfulness at the enforced stasis over the past weeks has given way to gratitude. The wind and the rain imposed a stillness which has allowed me the space to navigate rough terrain in other quarters and I wonder to myself if I might have fallen if I’d had more fronts open. Colleague’s difficulties at work bubble and burst, leaving me holding the fort. Things shift and realign in my writing world. Some writing projects pause while others (more manageable ones) open up. The children embark on rites of passage that leave them uncertain and needing warm arms to hold them.

I find myself thinking a lot about authenticity and the courage required to take up space or hold necessary boundaries. I read a quote by Maya Angelou,

“When you know you have worth, you don’t have to raise your voice, you don’t have to become rude, you don’t have to become vulgar; you just are. And you are like the sky is, as the air is, the same way water is wet. It doesn’t have to protest.”

So, I watch the trails of raindrops running down the attic skylights, scrub my boots of Pocket mud, and take inspiration from the water that just is.

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