For years when I thought of spring, daffodils were the image that came to mind. They are everywhere in Britain – grass verges, traffic junctions, gardens, parks – whether in the city or the countryside daffodils are simply on every street corner. I took the picture at the top of the page here in Gorky Park but actually daffodils aren’t something I associate with the coming of spring in Moscow, instead there are five very different images that I think of.
For Beanie-boy it is grass that he has been watching and waiting for – not flowers, just grass. During the winter, the snow-covered ground killed any sign of grass above the ground, so since the snow melted we’ve only had brown bare earth to look at. As the first tiny shoots of green grass have appeared, Beanie-boy has become increasingly excited (giving me an almost daily update on his walk home from school!) and when he saw a whole carpet of the stuff, he insisted that we stop and take this photograph!
Paintwork takes quite a battering during a Russian winter, so as soon as the warmer weather begins the authorities employ a whole of army of workers to paint every metal fence in sight. When I saw the first huddle of men and women bent painting fences this year I could’ve jumped for joy!
One of the most depressing signs of the start of winter is when the fountains get turned off. No-one wants burst pipes, so we’ve spent the last 6 months or so without working fountains. But now they’re back!
Back in England, the main street in my parent’s home town is lined with Cherry trees and I have wonderful spring memories of pink blossoms as far as the eye can see. But in Moscow it is the Lilac tree that reigns supreme. True you’ll also find Lilac trees in other places, but I’ve never seen as many as I have in Moscow. Artists here have certainly been inspired by them: Serov, Vrubels and Chagall all painted lilacs and Rachmaninov composed a beautiful piece entitled “Lilacs” (which you can listen to on YouTube) If you want a lilac tree for your own garden you can even buy a variety called Beauty of Moscow!
Just as the snow has stopped, the ground is covered in more white stuff. The blossom of the Poplar tree is everywhere in late spring and it isn’t much fun if your suffer from hayfever. If you want to find out more about this Moscow phenomenon, I wrote a post all about Pukh last year.
What are your favourite things to look for in spring? If you live in Moscow, did I miss any?