We’ve had “New Year”, it’s after the 1st of January and now we’re well into in 2023, having left 2022 far behind (the date at least, if not the impact). We’ve heard the fireworks, seen them on TV or perhaps we might have even gone to a display. We’ve had the parties, the well-wishing messages, the “Top 50 of 2022” programs on TV. We’ve made New Year resolutions that we’ll really try and keep this time.
We’ve probably sung Auld Lang Syne.
It doesn’t really feel like a new year to me though.
I’ve noticed in recent years, that a “New Year” doesn’t suddenly occur on the stroke of midnight at the end of December. The switch-over from the old to the new doesn’t happen in that brief moment when the clock strikes twelve. It doesn’t even pass 24 hours afterwards, when the planet has fully spun on its axis all the way around, letting all timezones catch up to the New Year date.
Instead, I experience New Year over the period of a few months, it’s long, drawn out, subtle, gradual and feels like a much deeper, inexorable march. It’s far more substantial than the movement of the “seconds” hand past the “12” mark on an analogue clock face.
For me the “New Year” has become the “New Season” of the garden, when at some point during the winter, there’s a tipping point when there’s more coming into life than there is dying back or staying dormant. I’m not sure exactly when that occurs, but I don’t much care.
I do know that it starts on those winter-sun days, when it might be cold, but the sun is shining (albeit low) in a relatively clear blue sky. I’m enthusiastic to go outside and do some garden jobs of one variety or another. However, while I’m busy with what-not, I’ll suddenly stop at smell of Sarcococca and Wintersweet in flower. As they mature, there’ll also be Winter Honeysuckle and Mahonia. Understated, unassuming mid-winter flowers packing the heaviest, sweetest scent, wafting about the garden (if the wind stays low).
That heady winter floral and spice fragrance is one of the first signs, it’ll quickly be followed by the small carpet (let’s call it a rug) of snowdrops, while the daffodils are showing obvious yellowing flower buds rising, at the same time the magnolia flower buds are visibly getting fatter. At some point in late winter, it will be impossible to ignore the countless bright flashes of pink, red and white of camellia flower buds, readying to open.
As more plants emerge from dormancy, it all builds to a glorious spring crescendo that leaves no doubt that the new gardening season has arrived.
Panic about the garden running out of control quickly ensues – it’s an annual thing that I’m getting used to.
Until then, I’ll continue doing odd jobs in the brief daylight hours, as weather allows and let the feeling of the “New Season” slowly, inevitably build until it becomes all but impossible to ignore. Perhaps at that point it’ll feel right to write 2023.