The timing of spring

After almost 3 weeks in Brussels and London (delayed by the ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano), I confess to having mixed feelings about coming home.

That’s because it’s really spring in Brussels. When we got there on April 4, the daffodils were past their peak. Forsythia – great bunches of it growing wild – was everywhere. The cherry trees on the streets were blooming pink, and along the highways were many white-blooming trees and bushes. The trees were just on the edge of leafing out when we left Brussels on April 19th.

Sure looks like daffodils and primula were growing wild on the forest floor in the Belgian Ardennes region, April 2010

Now at home, my daffodils have just started, and they’re early this year. I’d counted on this when we planned the trip: seeing two springs. And I will enjoy my second spring as much as the first.

So what is it about Nova Scotia that makes us put up with this extra month of not-quite-spring? And with the cold winters that would kill the broadleaf evergreens that keep Brussels green all year? That’s what I was asking myself as I went for my walk today.

And of course the answer is: the wildness of it. Nature raw and pure. Everything in Europe has been trod upon, cultivated, dug up and built over many times. There is hardly a river that follows its natural course through riverbanks that it carved itself. Humans have had their way with the land for thousands of years.

And we’re having our way with the land in Nova Scotia too, it’s just that we haven’t been here so long in such numbers. Natural shoreline is gradually diminishing, soils are being depleted, pollution locally-made or imported on the jet stream fills our lungs.

The closeness of the wild world reminds us that we still have something to protect, even while we seek to build a viable economy. Can we effectively, sustainably, balance these two concerns?