This short piece is in response to a Monday writing prompt on Lori Carlson’s blog
Do join in. It’s a good exercise and everybody has a spring memory they could write about.
Painting by Ernst Bernhardi
The snow had melted weeks before around the house and my parents had begun to turn over the soil ready for planting. The rose bushes were pruned, stakes put in for all the climbing things that were planned, like sweet peas and morning glories, and the geraniums had been taken out of the shed where they over-wintered and set out on the sunniest wall. Every morning was heralded by a wild, unfettered chorus of birdsong.
I had no interest in gardening at that age, but I loved to watch the tiny shoots appear that would run rampant into a riot of stalks and flowers in a few short weeks. I planted a few seeds of my own and watered them assiduously, but much preferred poking about under the hedges, looking for nests, eggs, the holes that meant a tiny rodent had taken up residence. I watched the different birds, their frantic nest-building activities, listened to their songs.
The days grew milder; I ventured further into the wilderness at the bottom of the garden that became woodland and a stream-filled valley. Buds were swelling, leaves uncurling, bright, tender green. New pods were bursting; catkins decorated the willows with their silky pollen-coloured flowers, slender spears of garlic and irises thrust through the muddy earth. Old dry seedheads blew away in the brisk spring winds to make way for new growth, all signs that life was returning.
The snow had gone, even from the deepest shade of the hazel copse, from the dampest shadows by the little brook, when I found the hedgehog. It was lying on its back, ribs spiking to the sky, opened like a tin can. Something hungry had found it in the dark depths of winter, and the spiny remains had lain hidden beneath the snow until now. No blood stained the earth around it, no gore and signs of mortal struggle. The little animal was long dead, but still I felt a sorrow that rose in my throat and made my eyes sting. Even in the joyous bustle of spring, death was never far away.