It is Valentine’s Day, and I do not long for romance. There had been some earlier, of a sort. In how the pale pink of dawn looked through the condensation on the bedroom window. In the two mugs of Lemsip, one yellow, one purple. One each. 

I want for no cards, nor roses. I caught M somewhere between shower and out-the-door, made him stand and admire the iris reticulata that defied Ciara at six inches high, opening in gales of 40 miles-per-hour wind. “The purple ones?” He said. “A bit of spring”. 

Not spring, not yet, but the bit before it. The bright and blustery days. The clear view of parakeets on bare trees. 

Mostly, I would like a couple of empty hours in a good coat and good gloves and two 50-litre bags of peat-free compost. Over winter, the craving to be out has been more expansive than that; I have clung to coastlines and wanted to be the only person on a beach. I have wanted to roam.

But the days are longer now. I wake up when it is light, and see the sun dim as I leave the office. I want, instead, to tend. 

I would like the luxury of pulling out and tidying up and dusting down. I would like to cut back things and pot up others and drench those that have been in rain shadow. Inside, the to-do list is growing with every new box that comes in the door. The stuff is pushing at the walls and demands attention. I would like to leave it be, be pushed outside with it. 

The new things that grow are starting to catch up with me. The irises are first, and they are fine, spurring me on. But there are the striped spindles of crocus leaves and the tall shoots of narcissus. Something broad and elegant, like paintbrushes, emerges. I never label the pots, mostly out of laziness, but also because it adds to the fun if you don’t know what to expect. 

The balcony looks after itself, has done so all winter. And I don’t think it really needs me half as much as I need it. We are getting to the point of the year where the plans and plants of years past return. Those long lost in dormancy counteract expectation, green things emerge defiantly. And it feels like being on the street, in the middle of something else, and seeing the face of a friend you never quite manage to catch up with, and being delighted. 


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