Coleridge rings insistently in my head as I prowl round the garden in the icy dark. ‘Whether the eave-drops fall, heard only in the trances of the blast, or if the secret ministry of frost shall hang them up in silent icicles ……..’ Which side of zero is it tonight? Will the white hand release its grip and give us back green and the balm of living things?
I listen, straining to hear – not that there is a blast to drown the sound of drops. On the contrary, ‘trance’ is the very word for the suspended animation of the invisible garden. Yes: there is a sound: a timid tinkling of water on the move, in a downpipe, into a drain. I wait, to be sure, seeing nothing. In clear daylight all life, all movement was locked. Has the wind changed? There are no stars; the pressure from the east must be deflating and letting a gentle front of mildness steal in, not seen but very faintly heard.
Coleridge will not go away. ‘ Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee ……’ But I still prefer spring to winter