Life

Nuala McCann: Spring is in the air – it's time for the Marigolds

I'm well past the nesting instinct but I've got the spring fever writes Nuala McCann. It's a strange disease. In the depths of winter I would not be seen dead with a feather duster in my hand, but come April, just watch me

Ah, spring – don’t you feel that spring thing, that throw open all the windows, pull on the marigolds and scrub the decks thing?

MY mother once shared a room in the local maternity hospital with a farmer’s wife. This woman didn’t have to listen to her body for the sharp tweak of a contraction.

Her husband would watch her bustling about in the kitchen and would remark that it was about time she was packing her bag for the labour ward.

When she asked him to explain, he said he had seen any number of animals getting ready for birth in his time and when she started clucking about and cleaning all around her, it was time to go.

He knew the nesting instinct when he saw it, he’d say.

I’m well past the nesting instinct but I’ve got the spring fever. It’s a strange disease. In the depths of winter I would not be seen dead with a feather duster in my hand, but come April, just watch me.

“You know how it is,” I said to my dear friend on an outing to the garden centre. “I’m just going to pop home and scrub the bathroom clean for an hour.”

This sudden astounding love for Mr Muscle left her speechless. No, she said, when she got her voice back. She really didn’t know how it was.

“Don’t you feel that spring thing, that ‘throw open all the windows’, pull on the marigolds and scrub the decks thing?” I asked.

She sighed and said, really, she did not. Given my record as a 10 dirty coffee cups and an old apple core under the bed kind of a woman, I could see why she might be puzzled.

But that’s spring fever. The light points a long finger through the curtains and writes: “A dirty clart lives here” on the dust on the glass.

The sunshine shows up the crumbs from last Saturday’s baguette on the living room floor.

You can see the cobwebs, you’ve ignored all winter. The old spider in our defunct gas fire lives in fear of a deportation order and there’s dust all over the place – both the physical and the mental variety.

Most of all, I want to throw open the windows and the doors. It’s Freudian too – there is a lot of mental clutter that needs a good clearing too.

But let’s start with the washing. I want to put all the bedding on the two-and-a-half hour cotton wash and hang it out to blow itself dry on a windy day.

It’s the end of me and Mrs Kelly until October you see. Mrs Kelly runs the local launderette and for a fiver a basket, she dries my big sheets and towels for me in the dark winter months. I can’t bear windows weeping with condensation and knickers and socks on all spare radiators.

But come mid-March, we are officially separated and I’m back in cahoots with the washing line. I love a windy day.

Another friend understands. She lives in Donegal – there’s plenty of gusts coming in off the Atlantic out there.

She tells me of her friend who texted her daughter in Australia.

“A grand drying day in Donegal,” she texted. My friend and I both smiled at the thought.

Maybe only an Irish woman would understand the joy of the first good drying day of spring.

Soon the clocks will go forward and we’ll mourn the hour’s loss of sleep briefly but the nights will lighten and I can turn off the trusty light box that gets me through the winter months and get out walking again.

Like an old bear creeping out of a dark cave, I’m primed for a good stretch and a spring in my step.

Just to prove it, I got up last Sunday, made breakfast, made a pot of carrot and coriander soup and baked two loaves of bread, all before 10am. Then I lay down again.

But ah, what a sense of accomplishment – the sap is rising, hi. My bread is full of goodness – poppy and sesame and pumpkin seeds and a great old squeeze of honey.

My husband takes it to work every day. Someone in work asked him recently: Do you have a breadmaker?

“Oh yes,” he replied, “Nuala”.

And when anyone asks me about whether we have a dishwasher – well mine is of the human variety, him!

Happy spring and many many happy returns of grand drying days with fresh sheets billowing in the breeze.

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