It is now officially ‘Spring’. Even though the air still has some ‘bite’ to it and the sun is not yet shining consistently, this is the season that fills me with the most joy. Not only do the empty flowerbeds of our gardens start to burst into life, but I think we as human beings physically uncurl too. We come out of hibernation and become more sociable (or perhaps that’s just me). Those lighter mornings and longer days helping to propel us out of bed, and keep us out to play.
And yet we could not have Spring without winter, the season where it’s all happening behind the scenes; the earth protecting its plants, nourishing them from within to give them the strength to bust out when called by the sun. And I like to think that during the cold months, we’re doing the same at home; literally or metaphorically stoking our stores with warming stews and hearty casseroles, and sleeping longer to ready ourselves for the more active months ahead.
Historically, when the only measure of time was the rising and setting of the sun, and activity was limited to how many candles you could afford to burn, the dawn of Spring naturally encouraged more productivity. The time for planning and prep was over. Longer days meant more action! Spring cleaning was tied into this too. Households literally sweeping away the stagnancy of the still season; furiously polishing windows to let more light in, and flinging open doors to welcome fresh air.
I feel that natural pull to activity continues today. Perhaps it’s more about home-based re-evaluation than zealous spring cleaning, but certainly these months tend to prompt a seasonal review of one’s surroundings. It’s traditionally a popular time to move house too; and also when many begin major renovations or extensions, with fingers crossed that the weather will hold for their builders. In short, the push is on to get things done so that they can be enjoyed by the summer.
Perhaps that’s why I like Spring so much; because it seems to be a time of such unfettered optimism. A moment when the world around us is the visible embodiment of a sheer, unbridled enthusiasm for life. In my own garden everything is already green, the birds are back, noisily squabbling for attention around the bird feeder, and the last of the surrounding trees are threatening buds, if not blossom. It serves as a timely reminder that no matter how harsh the last few months may have been, paraphrasing the words of the utterly brilliant cartoonist Robert Crumb, we’ve got to keep on truckin’, for spring always follows winter.
Boring but important: Now is the time to thoroughly inspect the exterior of your home for any damage after the winter. Roof tiles all intact? Chimney stack still there? Any visible cracks in walls or render? Mortar intact in brickwork? Gutters clear? Window paintwork still pristine? If not, deal with this all now and next winter will be a breeze. Think of it as an MOT for your house. We expect a lot of our homes; it pays out in the long run to take care of them back.
Fun and important: check over any garden areas too. Does anything need clipping or tying back? Leaves to sweep up? Do you have all your bug sprays and snail pellets bought and ready? Pruning shears oiled and sharpened?
Just fun: why not re-paint your front door? It’s amazing what a lift it can give you. That and making sure your door step, porch areas or equivalent are all clean, cleared and welcoming. Tine for some plants in pots? A new door mat? Could you install hooks and hanging baskets? A new knocker? Go on, treat yourself. Anything that makes you feel happy right on your own threshold is a sure fire winner.
Text by Michelle Ogundehin, Editor in Chief ELLE Decoration
See also michelleogundehin.com