Did I happen to mention that winter was my favourite season? Well, dear reader, I lied. As the weather warms up, the nights get balmier, the days longer, I realise – as I do every year, without fail – that my favourite season is, in fact, spring. The trees begin to get green again, the flowers start to bloom, and it gets that much easier to struggle out of a snug bed every morning. What’s not to love about spring?
So, while we are on the subject, let me count the many ways I love this season; and the many things I love about it.
Sweet thing: Among the flowers of spring, my favourite is the Narcissus
First up are the flowers. I have always loved the way Delhi is transformed by the colourful waves of flowers which raise their pretty little heads, nodding in the cool breeze as if they were acknowledging the arrival of warmth and happiness. There is the brilliant red of salvia, peeping forth from deep green leaves, as if asking Nature if it was safe to come out and play. There is the riotous joy of fuchsia and the wild profusion of pansies, as they threaten to destroy the symmetry of flower beds everywhere. And then, there’s my personal favourite: the Nargis (or Narcissus) flower, with its sweet, delicate aroma and shy white and yellow petals, looking a trifle embarrassed about being made much of.
But my love for spring predates my love for Delhi. Growing up in Calcutta, spring (or Basant, as it was called in my household) was heralded by the most important festival in my calendar: Basant Panchami. For us kids, this meant Saraswati Puja, for which we would wake up early in the morning, have ritual baths, wear something yellow, and start the day by worshipping the goddess of learning. It was an utterly unasked-for bonus that this was also a study-free day, because all my school books had to be placed reverently at the feet of the goddess so that she could bless them at her leisure, and I could spend my time reading my favourite Enid Blytons.
Ice ice baby: In spring, you can give up cappuccinos for refreshing iced tea
This was also the first day that we were allowed to eat ber, a fruit that has come to be associated with Saraswati. The prevalent superstition was that you would fail your exams if you ate ber before the day of Saraswati Puja. Fervent believers all, we would faithfully steer clear of the fruit until Basant Panchami, and then gorge ourselves silly. This not only introduced us to the concept of abstinence, but also taught us that everything tastes better after a spell of deprivation – an invaluable lesson to learn in life.
Those rituals of childhood – and the superstitions that came with them – are long gone, but the arrival of Basant Panchami still puts an extra spring (pun entirely unintended) in my step. And adulthood has brought its own spring rituals with it. A pedicure to spruce up unsightly winter feet, hidden away for months within socks and boots. Waxing arms and legs, so that sweaters can be peeled off and skirts worn without any embarrassment. Packing away winter clothes and
digging out the cottons and linens languishing forgotten at the back of the closet. And bidding goodbye to layering, which can turn the slimmest among us into little butter-balls.
It’s not entirely surprising, then, that so many of us embark on special fitness programmes around this time. The weather is just right to go for a morning or evening walk. And there’s no excuse for that glass or two of alcohol to warm you up at night. You can forgo the dense soups for a light salad made from crunchy spring vegetables and not feel deprived. You can give up calorific cappuccinos for refreshing iced tea. And if you’re lucky, maybe in a month or so you can get rid of all the lard you’ve accumulated over winter and get back into your old summer clothes.
Or better still, you can do that one thing that actually takes its name from the season: spring-cleaning. Throw out all the old stuff that is cluttering up your life (not to mention your mind-space) and create the space to bring some newness to your life. This could mean anything from last season’s Anokhi kurtis which no longer fit to old acquaintances who bring you down with their negativity. Throw out everything and everyone who doesn’t add anything to your life. And use the space cleared to fill your life with positivity, joy and good cheer.
So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and enjoy spring while it lasts. Go for a walk. Eat an ice cream. Enjoy the feel of wet grass on your feet. Buy a beautiful new dress. Paint your nails green. Wear flowers in your hair. Start a journal. Sign up to learn a new language. Take dance classes. Be brave. Make new beginnings. It is the season to do just that.
Follow Seema on Twitter at twitter.com/seemagoswami
From HT Brunch, February 10
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