Snowdrops. Like fairy bells, all of white, suddenly sprung up ringing in the woods. They signal spring, even when you find them in freezing temperatures on frozen-mud strolls.
I first noticed them in a graveyard in Northleach. Not even realizing what they were, I thought it was remarkable to see dainty, elegant flowers decorating graves in the middle of winter.
We saw them again in Elkstone.
Finding snowdrops in a wild(ish) wood is not as easy at it sounds. They hide under leaves and behind bracken. And when you do see them, their first-person magic is hard to capture — at least with my poor skills. It’s hard to describe how sharply white and green they appear, in contrast to the sear browns and grey of the woods.
I’m glad to have found snowdrops again this year — even gladder to know they mean spring is coming, and to value them appropriately. They are only out for a few more weeks, so catch them while you may.
TO A SNOWDROP
LONE Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day,
Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay
The rising sun, and on the plains descend;
Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend
Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May
Shall soon behold this border thickly set
With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing
On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers;
Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years!
~William Wordsworth, 1819
Pensive monitor of fleeting years, indeed. I’m promising myself I’ll visit that same grave in Burford again next year, and mark the end of my cotswold winters in snowdrop blossoms.