Aftermath and Prologue. Spring 2020

It was early March. The rain seemed finally to have stopped, a least for a while, and I decided, as you do, to go in search of the Spring with my camera. I went first to RSPB St Aidan’s, a bird reserve established on the site of an open cast mine, which is also a smallish area of flood plain nestling in a curve of the River Aire. I’ve been here many times and felt that I knew what to expect, and I was wrong!

Flood plains have a very important function as we’ve become aware in the last winter or so. Here was the aftermath of a flood, which was caused by the area doing exactly what it was intended to do; catching millions of gallons of flood water and delaying its passage down the river. A job well done, but at some cost to itself, as I discovered. The reserve was open, but much of it still cut off by flooded paths and much of the vegetation was flood-damaged. The “feel” of the place was bleak, emphasised by the brisk breeze and the chilly day. That which was most evident was the “aftermath”, although interlaced and just visible was the promise of spring, of new growth, of recovery, even of resurrection. I’ll go again soon, or at least once the lockdown is over, and am confident of enjoying its resurgence; but for now I’ll hold on to the memory of “aftermath”

Nine days later Kay and I revisited RHS Harlow Carr. It’s had its own flooding issues in the past, but much work has been done mitigating that problem and the gardens, which stand on slopes on opposing sides of a stream, were nothing more than a little soft under foot in places. Here the sense was clearly of a “prologue”, a looking forward to and preparation for the fullness of spring. Bridge building, new areas for fresh planting, tracts of empty soil ready either for what will be planted or what is already germinating beneath the surface, delightful areas of spring flowers, all speak of joys to come. It is a joyous place, and much of the promise will have been fulfilled by the time we are allowed to visit again. Of course one of the few certainties in these uncertain, virus governed times is that the new born spring will lead us into summer whether or not we are able to watch the process in that joyous place.

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