The wind roars through the branches; the sound seeming to echo of a far–off sea. The trees are all clothed in green and ochre, though some have yet to unfurl their leaves. The joyous abandon of the cherry blossom floats on the wind like pastel snow and just as ephemeral. The earth at their feet is strewn with petals, a carpet of pink and white, a bright fantasy against the wet tarmac and vivid green of rain-washed grass. I wish I had the camera, but it isn’t really a morning for photography. The rain hammers down and the trees bend and bow in the wind that robs them of their fading glory, making way for the playful majesty of the chestnut flowers.
The weather here is a wonderful thing, constantly changing. It is something of a national preoccupation, largely because it is almost completely unpredictable. We complain about it all the time, yet it true that without the rain with which we are, like it or not, blessed, these isles would not be their many shades of green. Between the bursts of rain the sun peeks through the clouds. Patches of blue promise better days ahead and it seems that earth and sky together hold all the answers to how life dances, its turns and twists to a rhythm unseen, but not, perhaps, unfelt.
I think back to a week ago… the long drive south… I had risen to a beautiful dawn breaking at the bottom of the sloping road that leads away from the city. As I reached the first glimpse of the hills, small patches of white against the rusty heather made me wonder if there had been frost. Half a mile further up and a few snowflakes were falling. Most unexpected… I didn’t even have a coat handy.
But I did have the camera… and there is a road that crests the top of the hill… and I could afford a few minutes detour… By the time I pulled over, two minutes later, the ground was dusted with snow and the shaggy little calves were exploring this new plaything that fell from the sky and made their world white. I managed a couple of shots, but by now the short-sleeves were proving inadequate as the wind rose. I retreated back to the car and turned around, heading for home, some three and a half hours away.
I stopped again fifty yards later. The light had changed, the landscape looked completely different. You would not believe that ten minutes earlier there had been full sunshine and the promise of a glorious morning. The snow was coming down almost horizontally in big, serious looking flakes. This time, I wasn’t even prepared to get out of the car… but I wound the window down just long enough for one quick shot. My friend in the sunny city a couple of miles below would not have believed the change.
Except… he would. He lives in Yorkshire and knows its ways. The changeability of the weather is never a surprise. I grabbed the rug from the back seat, throwing it round my shivering shoulders and drove through the heavy snow, reprising my route homeward…. And within five minutes the world was bathed in the warmth of a spring morning, with no trace of snow. I stopped again, looking out over a land of gold and green, scattered with flowers and gambolling lambs. You would have thought snow a distant memory.