A Last Blue Hurrah

I thought that I had missed them. For the first time in many, many years. I’d been distracted, pulled away by the human world. A world of deadlines, screens, worry, artificiality and bland, mediocre time sameness.

In my early morning walks with the hounds I’d spotted modest little clumps among the park trees, hidden in small pocket glades. Behind the cast iron railings near to a disused medical surgery, flanked by empty lager cans and plastic rubbish were a few more, although sitting in amongst them, white examples made me think that these were not natural, not wild. These glimpses made me smile, but didn’t lift my soul.

So when travelling back to my old stomping ground, to finish off some errands on the old house we used to live in, at lunch time my wife, son and I took the opportunity to stride out into the old woods we used to visit daily. To give the dogs a run, but also to see if we could still manage to find some.

The sun was hot. For May it was a warm one, 22 degrees. The ground was dusty and dry. The dogs sniffed about and then began to recognise the old landmarks. Soon confidence gave them courage to run and range wider and further. They chased scents and squirrels, real or imaginary.

We reached the first wood. This one is now an island in the middle of new build “executive” houses. Over the years I watched the machinery devour everything surrounding it. The rabbits, badgers, birds and mice gradually corralled into this small island. The trees looked as lovely as ever, slowly greening up and starting their springtime awakening. Fresh leaves soaking up the energy from the sunlight. The woodland floor was barren. Empty. Nothing blue to be seen.

Had I blown it? I’m acutely aware as I age that this could be my last time to see bluebells. Maybe this time I’d missed the opportunity. Damn busyness. Damn the working life. I felt out of sync, out of season if I’d missed this annual chance to re-calibrate myself into spring and re-awaken my sense of wonder.

With a slightly heavy heart I carried on. The dogs were happy, oblivious to us humans, save the occasional check back to the pack. The company of my wife and son were lovely. I valued them. I valued this walk. But I missed the Bluebells.

Into the bigger wood, one that’s weathered the encroaching builders better. More space, more trees, less footfall. The dogs flew away crashing through the undergrowth. The green woodland floor spotted with sky reflections. Pools of spring sky. Blending into a weak soft haze.

The air was still. As I breathed I picked up the tiny subtle traces of sweetness. The perfume was almost imperceptible, but it was there and it was unmistakable. The scent of spring, the pockets of hazy blue. Individuals still standing, heralding new life and a rush to grow.

My beloved Bluebells.

Sparser than the main growth. These were the stalwarts or the hangers on. The late to the party die-hards. Their display was maybe not the pinnacle of what they can achieve, not the haze so thick under the trees that it seems to dazzle and flow and swell like water. That haze can almost bring me to tears after a long winter of dark and brown.

No this was different. This was the bluebells last act of 2024. But I’d made it. I’d seen it again. I’d loved it again. I felt reconnected, reset again.

And for that I am very grateful.

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