The spring equinox signals a turning point after a long and (in this case) wet winter – from the bursts of colour from daffodils and blossom trees to the background beat of bird song and the buzz of bumblebees. Of course, each of us, wherever we are, will have a slightly different take and encounter when it comes to the arrival of spring.
For the second year running, we teamed up with the National Trust and the Land Lines research team to call on the nation to capture this significant moment in no more than 150 words. Once again, we were delighted by the volume and quality of entries, which included poems, thoughts and observations which you can now read in this new 2020 crowd-sourced nature diary.
These entries were written during the first official week of spring, when the UK was placed in lockdown to help restrict the transmission of Covid-19. This meant that some of us could only take note of the changing seasons from the window, or during our one-hour daily exercise. Yet what these reflections show is how engaging with our natural surroundings can provide a source of hope and comfort during an uncertain time.
As one of the entrants, Jonathan Gibbon, writes: ‘This morning, our children used binoculars to search for birds through the window. A blackbird plucked a worm from the soil while blue tits hopped around in search of food. Now the children are looking for bugs in the garden. As I gaze through the glass, the sun emerges from the clouds. We can do this.’
While Catherine Sleeman writes of the contradictions between the impact of the pandemic and the emergence of spring: ‘… Yesterday I said goodbye to the plans I had for this year, standing in the drizzle with friends I may not see for weeks, and now I watch for spring: the explosions of blossom, the arrival of the birds, and the way the sky keeps its blue and pink and gold later into the evenings. The smell of rain, the way the skeletal trees begin to fill out again, and hope seeping in through open windows.
Life returns without fail from even the harshest of winters.’
These entries have also been woven together into a new piece of nature writing, Hope’s Heart Beats, by Natasha Carthew, also published today. Natasha said: “I absolutely loved weaving all the different nature observations into the story, each diary entry was like a found object gifted from folk all over the country and it was a great privilege to be asked to stitch them into the most beautiful tapestry.”
You can read the complete collection of diary entries on the Spring Nature Diary website.