Inspired by the podcast I mentioned last week I've been keeping an eye on the cherry trees and their swelling buds, and as you can see from this very blurry photo, the weather has improved and those buds are beginning to burst. Blossom is all around us now. I've seen many varieties of daffodils, my favourites being the many layered ones that look like tutus, and at the weekend one of the most exciting events of my nature year occurred when I saw the first proper magnolia bloom. I've been keeping an eye on their furry buds over the past few weeks, and finally, last Sunday, there she was. Of course, it shouldn't really be a surprise, because this weekend is the Spring equinox. Never mind meteorological Spring, to me this is the real deal. The weather forecast is showing a much needed weekend of sunshine - I'm not saying that you can't connect to nature under grey skies, but the blue ones certainly help. The vernal equinox occurs at 15.33 the moment at which the centre of the sun is directly above the equator, and so day and night are nearly of equal length all around the globe. I took this information from my trusty guide, The Almanac. At this time of year every day seems to be longer than the last, and I'm no longer waking up in the dark, although when I do wake particularly early, like this morning, around 5.00am the birds were all of a chatter.
I'm writing this on St Patrick's Day - the patron saint of both Ireland and Nigeria. I discovered this in my reading of The Turning of the Year - Lore and Legends of the Irish Seasons by Eithne Massey, and I feel compelled to mention that in 1976 the Wombles apparently attended the St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin. I like to think that everyone went away from the parade and spontaneously engaged in a litter pick. There's something very meditative about going on a litter pick, focusing only on the next piece of litter to dispose of, then suddenly reaching the end of a street or a path and looking back, the difference at once obvious. We're all in debt to the many groups of volunteers in our towns and villages that get involved to keep Scotland beautiful, and coincidentally, Spring Clean Scotland starts on Monday 21st March, the first day of astronomical Spring. No doubt many groups across Lanarkshire will be getting involved, so keep your eye out for groups in your area that you can join, or maybe, grab a litter picker and spend an hour doing your own. Not quite the same, but this week I had some homework from the Intentional Awe course that I've been doing, and it was to take an Awe walk. I've been really lucky over the last few weeks as I've been out recording walks for our partnership with Go Jauntly and have seen some awesome things; for instance our local woodpecker, a row of beautiful hornbeams at Fernbrae meadows, and a starry starry night. Encountering something vast is one of the ways we can inspire awe, (more here) and what is vaster than the night sky? With the full moon tomorrow, I'm hopeful to enjoy an awe walk then too. For more information about going on an awe walk, check out this video from the World Economic Forum. It would also be a great way to celebrate the equinox. As well as walking, I'll be celebrating by opening my windows, feeding the birds and buying a bunch or two of daffodils, but do whatever is meaningful to you. I'm going to be taking a wee break from blogging over the next few weeks as I use up some annual leave, but I'll be back after the April holidays with more nature connection.