In the picture, you can see a couple of hyacinth bulbs in a pair of vintage bulb glasses that were a gift from a friend. I love them and use them every year. They're sitting on my office windowsill, alongside an oak block from some ancient shipwreck. It washed ashore at the south end of the Isle of Gigha, and lay there waiting for us to find it, one long gone summer.
The other day, after a bitterly cold, misty spell of weather, the sun shone and I walked around the village, dropping off Christmas cards. It was quiet in the village with not so much as a dog barking, although one or two of them popped their heads up as I passed by. As I walked along the winding drive to the old manse of Gemilston, I was suddenly aware that the verges were already starred by bulbs, peeping through, little clumps of pale spikes, tiny teeth. I'm not sure whether they were snowdrops or crocuses - snowdrops possibly, because they come first. Before the end of January and well into February, they will be in bloom here in the west.
I don't much like winter, but if anything, I like autumn even less. I can admire the colours, enjoy the apple harvest, the brambles, the sloes. All that. But nothing lifts my heart like the first signs of spring. I'm a springtime person, and for me, spring comes early. As soon as the Christmas decorations are put away for another year, I like to bring springtime into the house, in the shape of snowdrops, catkins and early indoor hyacinths.
Today, at 15.49, the time of the winter solstice, we were waiting with our bottle of fizz (Cava today!) and a couple of Victorian champagne glasses, and we raised a glass to the turning year and the return of the sun. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I find the way the light leaches out of the days in October and November profoundly depressing. (Especially at this miserable Covid time) - but almost as soon as the year turns I feel a small lifting of my spirits, a sensation that only grows as the weeks go by.
I hope you do too.