In which we fast-forward

A grassy lawn with spring flowers

Once more, with feeling

The phrase bleak midwinter was first coined by the English poet Christina Rossetti in 1872 and went viral when composer Gustav Holst incorporated her text into a carol a few decades later. Although the words are clearly meant to evoke the “hard as iron” feel of Christmas, I have always associated bleak midwinterism with January and February, the period after the festivities have ended but before the first spring bulbs begin to bloom. In this dormant, liminal period, the world is gripped in darkness and all hope seems very far away.

I used to struggle quite a bit during the bleak midwinter, but it’s been increasingly less problematic; this year, the period has lost its bite altogether. In fact, it doesn’t seem to have happened at all. Maybe it’s because of the mild winters we’ve been having, which keep the roses blooming into late December, coaxing up freakishly early snowdrops at the same time. The cow parsley sent up green fronds in January, alongside the rusty-red quince blossoms and lemon-yellow false oxlips; February has brought the crocuses and daffodils, hyacinths and hellebores, all compressed into one wave and heedless of the proper unfolding order of things. We may yet get a cold snap or even a dusting of snow, but to all intents and purposes, some celestial force has zapped us straight from New Year’s Day to spring.

I am not complaining. But at the same time I am hardly sure what to do with this sense of peace and contentment which normally needs to be awaited, longed for, somehow earned.

About Jennifer Rohn

Scientist, novelist, rock chick
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