“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” (Shakespeare, Sonnet XCVIII)
I just love this time of year. Full of promise: once the Vernal Equinox has passed, light builds momentum day after day. This is truly the height of Spring – Edinburgh snow and gales notwithstanding – and, as the Earth tilts closer and closer towards the sun, we begin the steady ascendance towards Beltane in a flurry of flowers.
Take a cue from the Japanese and their approach to “sakura season”. The cherry blossom peeks in Japan at the beginning of April on average and lasts all of two to three weeks. During this time, locals engage in “hanami” or “flower viewing”, the traditional ritual of enjoying the ephemeral blooms of the cherry tree. There is even a “blossom forecast” by the weather bureau every year, such is the dedication to planning. Today, outdoor parties are held under the cherry blossom, day or night, beneath lanterns. Each year I like to pack a simple picnic and head to our local park to enjoy al fresco food under the pink confetti before it fades for another year.
Sow for Summer
With the Earth beginning to warm, it’s time to start seriously planning your planting. I’ve still got my name down for an allotment in Edinburgh (seven years and counting…) so I won’t be sowing seeds directly into the Earth any time soon, but I am going to grow windowsill strawberries and tomatoes again and maybe try a grow-bag or two in our wee communal patch. I’ve found investing in quality seeds makes all the difference when it comes to planting, so buy the best you can afford and always sow more than you think you’ll need as they won’t all take. After that, follow the instructions on the packet to the letter, particularly with regards to light and watering.
Its those liminal times of the year where the woodland is so spectacular; when the leaves are on the cusp of turning in Autumn, and when Spring is bursting into life once again. As the trees are generally still bare, this means there’s plenty of light available to the forest floor. You can track the small shifts in the seasons by what’s blooming beneath your feet: starting each Spring with delicate snowdrops and reaching its height with the magical bluebell. For me, the woods are a regular pilgrimage at this time of year, offering hope and light as Spring stirs. And when the forest is carpeted in a violet sea of bluebells I know that it’s really here.
Birdsong Morning Mindfulness
The birds are particularly active at dawn and dusk as the days lengthen. Listening to their song is a great way to meditate in the morning or evening. Shut your eyes and notice the different calls of the birds around you while you stretch your limbs and wiggle your toes. Breathe deeply. Try to follow the call and response of their song as the birds watch the world below, warning of company or making their territory known.
Plan a Summer Adventure Close to Home
Half the joy of anything is in the anticipation, I find, and planning a Summer adventure or staycation is one way to build excitement for those longer, lighter months ahead – and especially necessary this year, where safe to do so. There’s something about having a date in the diary, a note in the calendar to count down towards, that Summer is all about. A staycation somewhere off-grid is the perfect R&R to keep in sight and get some of that school day holiday countdown feeling as a grown-up.
How are you celebrating April?