09 Mar Sap Rising
Now that it seems to be almost over, it no longer feels like letting the side down to admit that this was a hard winter. The third lockdown was a lockdown too many. The tank of resourcefulness and cheerfulness in the face of adversity had run low. People were no longer sharing photographs of bread that they had baked. Like Dylan Thomas temporarily abandoning poetry during the war, I would have preferred to spend the last two months lying in a hot bath, sucking boiled sweets and reading Agatha Christie. The ordinary routine of life was so unrelentingly the same. All this getting up in the morning only to go to bed again just a few hours later. The washing up from one meal seemed to run seamlessly into the cooking of the next. There were no landmarks to steer by and nothing to look forward to. What was the point?
The one intimation of reprieve was the prospect of the vaccine, and we watched with stirrings of hope, replaced after a little while by delight, as the tally of people vaccinated ticked so steadily and impressively upwards on the nightly news all through January and February. What an extraordinary effort it has been, and continues to be, with the most unlikely venues co-opted as vaccination centres. Apparently cathedrals turned out to be ideal for this purpose, with their central location, excellent ventilation and lofty ceilings. Thinking of World War One wounded sleeping in the cloister underneath the Wren Library, I wonder if there’s any chance of King’s College Chapel when my call comes. But it’s more likely to be the local bowls club.
The spring last year was extraordinary, as the air cleared and the birds temporarily inherited the otherwise silent earth. It seems those conditions are never likely be repeated, so perhaps it’s safe to feel a twinge of nostalgia for that extremely strange and frightening, but also oddly enchanted time.
Nevertheless, the approaching spring is casting its spell of renewal and animal spirits are beginning to stir again. Children are back in school this week. It is not possible to express the depth of my gratitude for this. From today we can meet a friend outside and sit with them on a bench drinking coffee, and not be arrested. And the prospect of the Rule of Six being reinstated in April is a totally intoxicating prospect, which is strange when you think what a depressing restriction it was when it was brought in. Now the idea of meeting several other people simultaneously is just ridiculously exciting.
Easter falls this year at the perfect moment, just at the beginning of April. By then a celebration of renewal may seem properly appropriate. With that in mind we’ve made some new spring-like printing blocks which are available from our website now. There is an Easter set with a Speckled Hen, three large Patterned Eggs, a Dancing Hare, a Sprinkle of Flowers, a Tiny Egg and a Very Small Chick, all packed into a very sweet pink box. It would make a good present for someone you haven’t been able to see for a while, but soon will. There’s also a larger Leaping Hare block, which is available singly.
Finally, if it feels too soon to start hoping yet (and after all, there have been so many reversals and disappointments) or if life as it is currently constituted is just too grey and stodgy, like the semolina at school used to be if you accidentally ate the minuscule blob of jam too quickly, then may we recommend the adorable Korean melodrama ‘Crash Landing On You’, presently to be found on Netflix? It’s a little difficult to describe, as it’s not like anything else we’ve ever seen, but try to imagine a present day Georgette Heyer novel set in the demilitarised zone, with a hero of surpassing beauty; a heroine of infinite charm; a supporting chorus, or entourage, simultaneously funny and touching; and a perfectly ludicrous yet utterly gripping plot. It is escapism of the very highest quality. Suffice it to say, one of us has watched it all the way through three times and is now learning Korean. Enjoy.