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Why we should just celebrate spring for what it is, not pretend it's the summer

By Grace Dent

Published 19/03/2016

Urban renewal: spring gives us the opportunity to think about growth, to take stock of all the things which happened over the winter
Urban renewal: spring gives us the opportunity to think about growth, to take stock of all the things which happened over the winter

You may have found yourself noticing spring's tentative nuzzle. More specifically, you may have woken up in broad daylight, thrown into a blind panic that it must be nearly noon. The children will need to be delivered to school with jumpers over their pyjamas, having breakfasted on nothing but Haribo Tangfastics. Again. But no. Phew. It is merely spring's arrival and winter's denouement.

In incremental steps, the clocks did that thing they do. As the product, on my mother's side, of dour Methodists, I am always inordinately grateful to have survived the Great Frost, and, between November and March, to have not died of super-flu, or the norovirus, or from falling over while trying to put both my legs into the same ski salopette leg and hitting my head on a fondue.

Spring is the optimum time to begin pursuing the very non-feminist-friendly goal of a beach-ready body. Fortunately, there are people on Instagram right now, offering plenty of advice on the subject.

The process involves spending all of spring eating literally no square meals a day, while you instead live on multiple web purchases from terrifying health-food boutiques, owned by reed-thin trustafarian women who believe that eating a banana after 8pm constitutes louche living.

Your diet consists mainly of fungus - which you've crushed by hand with a pestle and mortar - with a side salad of rare legumes.

Keeping in mind that Britain is likely to have a maximum of three warm swimwear days in a summer, I have decided to work out which beach these clowns are hanging out at and just not go there.

Of course, the greatest part of spring, for less-regimented mortals like you and me, is Easter.

It's a little disclosed fact that Easter is essentially slackers' Christmas. Here, if played correctly, is a four-day national holiday which requires no gift-giving, no dutiful travel and no peeling of a Kilimanjaro of parsnips.

To achieve this you need to put in the groundwork - starting today - by keeping your Easter plans purposefully vague when in front of your mother-in-law, your uncle Pete with the clicky jaw, or any excitable neighbours who might mention the dreaded word "barbecue" and cannot stop until you are standing, teeth chattering, on their decking in late March eating pre-made supermarket couscous.

The very worst people in spring are the ones who skip spring and go headlong into summer.

Because, for me, that's just cheating. We need spring to take stock of all the things that happened over winter. We need to think about growth and renewal. I need to tackle my garden, which during winter has doubled as the country's best-loved public toilet for urban foxes.

For beasts that live on bin scraps alone, foxes' constitutions are remarkable. So, too, are their sex lives. In some ways, yes, foxes are mysterious creatures, but when it comes to sex we can all hear that they bloody enjoy it. From the nightly screeches and caterwauls, I appear to be the landlady of some sort of urban-fox alternative lifestyle swingers' club that's operating behind my toolshed. They have sex for long periods and go to bed late. I can't say I'm not jealous.

Clearly, mentioning any sort of garden in springtime is perilous, because it reeks of petit bourgeois folly. If I had a shred of dignity I would, during the winter, have appeared alongside Benedict Cumberbatch, pledging to turn the entire plot over to the secretly trans people of the Calais camps in order for them to grow artichokes and stage impromptu, but life-affirming versions of Henry V Part One.

Just like last year in springtime, the lawn is a soggy mulch, which would make those jolly sorts on Gardeners' Question Time snivel.

Just like last year, I am in severe doubt that my climbers will reappear, let alone climb again. And, again, just like last year, all the summer efforts I made to tame and prettify this mess have been nullified.

But spring is a time to start again, not just in the garden, but in all parts of life - in love and in work and in family affairs. Spring brings fresh green shoots of hope for all of us. They may be under a pile of crisp packets, encased in mud and take a bit of finding. But I have been here before. I have great faith in the season.

Belfast Telegraph

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