As a feminist, I was surprised to find myself struggling to fix upon a theme for my column this month. In an issue worked around the dual hooks of International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day, how could this be? This time last year, I spoke about the inspiration I find in the company of teenage girls; this year I had no lack of equally motivating examples of wonderful womanhood upon which I could riff but despite this I felt unmoved. Thinking more deeply about the title of the column, I reflected that – tbh – there was no woman-focused stimulation upon which I could opine which felt particularly pertinent to March. I had to dig a little deeper.
What I’m finding exciting this March are the visible signs of spring, which in turn indicate the promise of summer and then, yes, the inevitability of autumn and winter. Still, though, March feels like a month packed with potential. In addition to this meta point, I’d also like to take a moment to appreciate nature’s boldness with colour, and take inspiration from her colour palette: is there no limit to the permutations of green which can satisfy her? More is always more. Bright hues dot the landscape – shy violet crocuses have peeped through and are making way for the soft pinks and yellows of primulas. Bare branches show signs of acid green leaf buds and magical wreaths of blossom emerge on twiggy stems.
Above all, nature’s return is reliable. Climate change might impact on timing, but there is still certainty at play. And, I don’t know about you, but I find any degree of certainty very welcome right now. Down the street from me is a house with a bank of peonies in the front garden. The plants abut a low wall where garden meets pavement, and their force is such that when they are in full flower this wall has collapsed and been rebuilt at least twice during the time I’ve lived here. At time of writing, all that can be seen of this magnificent display is a bunch of scraggy stalks, grey flaky bark, and brutal pruning. However, I’ve seen this often enough to know that come May, their luscious flowers will be in full riotous bloom.
So, yes, I’m inspired by the sheer rapaciousness of Mother Nature – her refusal to be beaten, her capacity to come through. And, like all the best women I know, she is resourceful, resilient, pragmatic and, of course, beautiful.