crocuses or croci
“Your crocuses are out,” I was informed. I resisted the temptation to reply, “Actually, it’s ‘croci’,” and instead looked out of the window to see a dozen or so violet flowers just beginning to show themselves. It’s been a topsy-turvy sort of a winter. One day quite warm, the next sleeting down and covering cars, roofs and gardens with a sprinkling of ice. One night cold, crisp and clear – and another night chucking it down with gale force winds to boot. I would not be at all surprised if the croci (crocuses) decided to go back down again into the lawn! At least the days are getting longer and there is more daylight.
As Christians we believe that Jesus Christ was executed unjustly but that after he was dead and buried, he was raised to new life by God’s Spirit. We celebrate this every year – do we realise what a big deal this is? Sometimes, I suppose, it all seems a long time ago and the excitement we might have once felt has faded. But it is worth taking time to remember. It is worth taking time to remind ourselves that Easter gives us hope for the future – and hope for the present: the same Spirit that brought new life to Jesus is one that God gives to us his Church.
I know it does not always feel like that. Sometimes it must feel a bit like those crocuses (croci): we look forward to summer and yet we get ice dropped on us. Perhaps we wish we could go back and hide in the lawn. The weather might not seem too good but that does not mean that the days are not getting longer. Life might be hard sometimes, but that does not have to mean that we give up the promise of new life that Easter stands for.
May we all have a blessed Easter when it finally arrives, whatever the weather.
croci or crocuses
“If the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from death, lives in you, then he who raised Christ from death will also give life to your mortal bodies by the presence of his Spirit in you.” (Romans, chapter 8 verse 11)
Just a selection from our garden – including some wild ones among the bulbs we planted.
Actually, in this country, it is quite difficult to get to a place that is untouched by human beings. The landscape has been shaped over thousands of years by the weather, climate and nature, of course, but it is hard to find somewhere where human beings have not left their mark.
That thought struck me when the other week I was out in the countryside for a few days. The nearest town (and nearest supermarket for that matter) was about 10 miles away, the nearest bus stop the best part of a mile away, and if you did not have a car or some such you were not going to get very far unless on foot. On the day I did venture for a walk away from where I was staying, I found a quiet country lane or two with the occasional vehicle passing by – say two or three per hour. From our house at home you’d give up counting within a minute or less. I wouldn’t dare attempt the walk at night – no pavement until I found the nearest village a mile or so away – and on the main (B) road there weren’t many more cars but they were faster and I spent almost as much time perched on the edge of the grass ditch as I did walking along. There were a couple of bends in the road which truly scared me. I might hear the lorry coming but would the driver see me?
You see, to be honest, I’m a townie at heart. I don’t mind looking at the countryside but I’m not really comfortable in it. So when I went to a county famed for its valleys and moorland I felt that I was getting away from it all. I have no complaints about the place where I stayed: food OK, nice views, a couple of evenings conducive to star-gazing, and generally quiet. I would tell you where I went but I want to keep it secret!
So one day, I went on this walk with my camera, tried not to rush, and decided to take some photos with the theme “in the middle of nowhere” (or something like that). However, if I tried to get a picture of the valley I found electric power lines in the way; or to get a better view (without trespassing) I had to worry about the traffic coming along the road. Everywhere I looked I could find a nice view but there was nearly always a fence, a road, a house, a farm, a barn or some other artifact. At one point a low flying military transport plane came over head.
I did manage to “get away from it all” but I wasn’t truly ‘in the middle of nowhere’. Other parts of these islands may have true wilderness, but not my part. Here is a selection of the photos I took.
According to my dictionary either form is acceptable for the plural of crocus. Here are a couple that were in our garden.
This photo didn’t focus properly (I was relying on its automatic function) but the effect I quite like:
This may seem to be a trivial consideration but with energy prices rising (not to mention the general question of being energy-efficient and environmentally considerate) the question of putting the heating on has been growing on my mind for several days now. While we may not want to waste the resources of fossil fuels, we still want to be reasonably comfortably warm, so there is a push/pull in two directions for the householder: being a good steward for the sake of the environment (and one’s bank balance) on the one hand; and creating a good environment within the home on the other.
And I imagine that I’m not the only one. The actual cut-in temperature will depend upon your particular circumstances. I remember seeing a Safety-at-Work poster with office- and shop-workers in mind. It stated that employees were entitled to work at a temperature above 16°C. It says something about our expectations of British weather that it did not say anything about a maximum reasonable temperature for such workers to work in. Meanwhile, when I was a teacher, one union reckoned that when there was one degree of frost (i.e. -1°C) outside then a temperature of at least 18°C was reasonable in a classroom. The background to that particular statement was when budget pressures resulted in some schools turning the heating off before the end of the school day. Long gone were the days when those schools left the heating on after the pupils had left for the benefit of the staff who stayed behind to prepare future lessons or attend meetings.
Then there are the places where the elderly live. The ‘reasonable minimum temperature’ is, I think, something like 21°C. It is certainly that bit warmer than for an office, say. Also, when we have visitors I’m more likely to put the heating on for a given temperature. And I suspect that I’m not the only one. Hospitality seems to require a bit more warmth in addition to the warmth of the greeting and the generosity of helpings at a meal.
In the Spring the question is the other way round. We have a relatively warm day, the house feels too warm but it is only just over 18 degrees C. Meanwhile, this time of year, a few days with temperatures over 20 degrees C then makes 18 degrees seems positively chilly. Yes, I know there is such a thing as a thermostat, and, yes, we do set it and use it. But the point is we might tough the chill out for one evening dipping towards 17 degrees in August, but not if it is the beginning of a trend in September. I don’t want to keep turning the heating on and off if I can help it.
Well, vacillation and prevarication are getting me nowhere. At the moment the sun is shining and the temperature in this room just now is 21°C. This time last week it was 16 and the gas and electric tariffs go up 18% and 11% (or thereabouts) next Monday. Perhaps we can make a bonfire of the bills?
So I don’t have any photos of either. I don’t know if it is unusual to have both snowdrops and bluebells in a garden at the same time but this year we did. After a harder than usual winter – colder, duller, gloomier – the snowdrops had to combat frost and snow. By the time they appeared the weather had turned round and we had an unseasonably warm Spring – temperatures and sunshine that would have done any English Summer proud. Although we have had more cloud of late I think it has only rained here twice since the beginning of the month (admitting that we might have slept through night-time rainfall) when typically it rains about half the week.
It has been reported that English strawberries are early this year. That is good news as far as I am concerned as I like them more than apples, for instance. Apparently, the early arrival of the English strawberry might be a concern for the traditional dish at Wimbledon if the season not only arrives a month early but finishes too early as well.
In the meantime our red poppies have flowered. I think they are a bit early too. A couple of photos are included here.
I never set out to blog every day but perhaps about once a week. The topics usually crop up in the course of daily life: things happen, we go out, read a book, hear the news on TV or radio. From time to time nothing in particular seems to happen so what to write about then? Look out the window (and if the weather is at all fine go outside, perhaps).
I think there is a general point here. If there is nothing in particular going on: look out the window. You might not see anything special, but you might see the ordinary things more clearly. Which all sounds very worthy but recently the view from my window here has either been foggy or tipping down with rain – sometimes even both! In fact, it has been like that for the best part of a week and it has rather dampened our spirits.
At least the view from my window is neither a violent street scene, nor an earthquake torn town (my prayer for you is to receive the support and courage you need, if that happens to be your window view just now). Here, however, you might even say that it is quite pleasant. Gloomy, yes, grey, indeed, not very warm, absolutely; but it is a steady rain at just the time that some plants are beginning to rouse themselves from their winter slumber. And we have not had a frost for a week or two either – also a benefit to the trees, bushes and new shoots making their first appearance.
I realise that it is a contrary thought but it seems to me that it is possible to optimistic even in the gloom and rain. I don’t simply mean “count your blessings” (appropriate though that is). One just has to see things from a different point of view. Mind you, it’s not easy trying to think like a bush or a tree, n’est-ce pas?