The bright morning starts with watering the seedlings, then letting out the hens. They, the three of them, bumble from their bed into the daylight and stumble to their feed. I make a mental note to pick up their eggs, but the apple blossom has distracted me. Rustic lanterns, ornaments and bird feeders suspend lazily, yet gracefully, from the lichen-dappled branches, but you would need to look twice to see them all. They are shrouded by splotches of rosy pink buds waiting to open, dotted between maturing white petals tinged at the ends with a pale magenta.
This tree is not the only one splattered in the watercolour of spring. I meander along the path into the open garden, and there is an ornamental fruit tree, the one I long to paint every year, but I have never quite got the hang of its twists and turns and tender-tipped leaves. But in all my years of admiration, I realise now for the first time that I have hardly taken notice of its own spring awakening. Its buds look to me like tiny, unopened tulips. They don't appear quite so playfully chaotic as the sporadic apple blossom does, but more dainty and proud. But then, I muse, an ornamental tree has no fruit to produce. Why should it not put all its effort into creating these pretty petals?
Caught in the moment, I whip out my phone. I have somewhere to be, but it can wait. First, I have to capture this spectacle. In fact, I ought to dance around all of the blossom trees, making sure that I study each one with both the camera lens and my own eyes. I wonder if anyone else feels conflicted like this?
Sometimes, when flitting about in the garden and seeking out nature's masterpieces, I find myself thinking deeply about the metaphors of flowers opening, seedlings sprouting. Today I am just pleased to see the sunshine, after days of harrowing wind and rain. I think how lucky we have been that the blossom remained tightly knotted together until now. Too many times I've put off photographing the blossom until its too late. Each gust of wind sends another flurry cascading down, showering to the ground. This year I've been on high alert, determined not to let the opportunity slip through my grip again. And here we are. This is the reward for remaining vigilant and panicking every time we got a heavy downpour. Maybe the blossom was vigilant of the rain too, but it persevered. And here comes the metaphor again...