15 April 2023

Spring again.....


The Resurrection (Piero della Francesca) c 1460

I have this fresco on my bedroom wall (there is a copy in the Museo Civico of Sansepolcro, Piero della Francesca's native town).  Every morning I wake to the haunting gaze of the risen Christ, while I still feel as asleep as the four soldiers at his feet (the second from the left being Piero himself).  I am reminded that it is time to make a refreshing pot of tea.....

One reason I so love this painting is that resurrection does not just refer to the man arising from his sarcophagus (though I do feel a bit like that some mornings) - there is the resurrection of the natural world from dormant Winter (on our left) with its bare trees to verdant Spring to our right as life regenerates. Here is Persephone. Here is Osiris. Here is Eostre.....

This Spring, however, is different. The past winter was, for me, the hardest I remember.  Not in terms of the weather, no.  But in terms of loss, of dying.  In December, for the first time in almost forty years, I spent our wedding anniversary alone. Then Christmas, in the company of our two daughters, was again a first without Amanda. New Year; my birthday; Amanda's birthday..... these anniversaries passed in colourless silence. Yes, we visited Amanda in her Care Home. But, no, she could not really participate, or communicate, or recognise.

On top of which, for one reason or another, I didn't feel so good, and the darkness dragged on, well into March, with little sign of hope.

But then the days began to brighten, and, haltingly, there were signs of regeneration. The world seemed to be coming to life again - even if not for everyone. At Easter I took Amanda for a wheel along the prom at Hunstanton, and there were people on the beach!

And across the Marsh there are walkers on the Flood Bank - still attired against the wind, but enjoying the open air, with a blue sky reflected in the ground water.....

In the woods I hear the hopeful chant of the Chiffchaff:

 In the trees I spy a Nuthatch:

And then a busy little Treecreeper:

There was action all around. Birds displaying, and birds hunting, feeding, perhaps providing for the family:

Barn Owl

Marsh Harrier


Red Kite


Birds everywhere.  At Titchwell RSPB I saw a distant  Spoonbill:

And Avocets combing the water:

A Redshank in the mud:

And a Meadow Pipit on a post:

And at home, in my garden, the Rosemary is in flower:

And the Cherry trees are blooming:

In this resurrection life is affirming, and the depression of winter begins to lift. My personal grief is nothing compared to others. It is very sad, for me, that I cannot walk across the land with Amanda as we did a year ago, and all the past years that we shared. But she is being looked after, and still has moments of cheer:

Things could be worse, and, I guess, it's best not to think too much about the future. I don't know how many more  Springs there will be - for you, for me, for the planet itself - so we must make the most of what we have today, and be grateful for the wonder that is this resurrection:

The Trees

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.

Philip Larkin


  1. We must all begin afresh - your lovely photos do encourage us to do so. Judith Harris

  2. Wonderful as ever. E-mail follows.

  3. My thoughts are with you and Amanda.I still look for her at the Abbey.

  4. Very inspiring words, picture and photos. Brian