I was going to write about early spring, I really was — about sunshine that arrived on the first of March and stayed for three weeks, about freezing nights and warm afternoons, about pink blossom against brilliant blue skies, about the light that woke me earlier every morning, about the excitement of it all, the contradictions in the weather, the smell of daffodils, the promise in the air. I was going to –I even took a photo— but of course I didn’t get round to it in time and now it is too late because spring proper arrived today.

Not on a warm breeze, not on a sunny morning and not in April like I had expected it to but on the unexpectedly warm and gentle rain of a cloudy afternoon in March. Oh, it won’t last; the best seasons rarely do in England; but I wonder sometimes if that doesn’t make it all the more precious. A few minutes of breathing in that unmistakeable smell of spring while watching my class in a gardening lesson were enough for me to be undone with love and longing, washed over by waves of sadness — the love and longing that run through my life like a thread of meaning, the sadness that is as timeless as it is time-specific, a blessed release after winter’s long inwardness and always, always bittersweet.

All this to remind me of my old maxim, that you can spend a winter (or a lifetime) preparing (or praying) for something and the best things will still come round unexpectedly and catch you by surprise.

Ah, the beauty of the way that we are living.