Quite a few years ago I had a pen-friend in Saskatchewan and she used to refer to ‘green up’. In her corner of the world there was snow for many months and then – suddenly it seemed – green up. I often think of her and that phrase at this time of year.
Our house is set high on the side of a small valley. This means that the tops of the trees on the valley floor are below us. We have a whole new vantage point from which to observe green up.
The weather was warm enough on 5th May that we could sit on the balcony in the early evening. The trees that B is looking at have only the barest dusting of green.
A few days of sun and we see some changes.
Two more days.
And two more..
And by the end of the month – the trees are fully clothed.
I love this time of year, when the greens are so fresh and vibrant. May has always been one of my most favourite months: we start to feel warmth again (hopefully); there is growth and life in abundance. I find May a very uplifting month.
On the other hand, I found Philip Larkin’s The Trees rather dour – very typical of the poet himself. But having let the poem sink in, I now like it very much and find it especially relevant for me this year.
There are some who see retirement as a chapter in life to fear – with its connotations of ageing and losing one’s place in the world. There are others who view it as a well-earned period of rest and repose and freedom of choice. We have chosen to uproot ourselves and put down new roots in an area far from friends and family. Instead of downsizing, we have upsized. We have new challenges, new places to visit, new people to meet. We will be doing more entertaining than we’ve ever done.
Like the trees in Larkin’s poem, we are beginning afresh.
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
by Philip Larkin