Caught by the River

The Wild Flower Calendar

Mathew Clayton | 10th February 2014

January: Snowdrop

Illustration: Greg Stevenson
Words: Mathew Clayton

I spotted my first flowers of the year two weekend’s ago in the local churchyard: a single snowdrop growing at the foot of a tree. I stopped for a minute to look and involuntarily found myself smiling. Snowdrops are beautifully proportioned, the flower just the right size for the stem No wonder, that in the original version of the Brothers Grimm story, the fairest of them all was named Snowdrop not Snow White. Yet there is something falsely seductive about flowers in January, they bring with them the promise of spring, when really we are still in the depths of winter.

A few days later there were more flowers and another smile. This time at the funeral in Essex of my dear cousin Aron KilBride whose life was cut short by cancer. After the service we went back to his father-in-law’s house. I stood in the crowded hallway sipping a cup of tea, catching up with my Welsh cousin Danny, when I caught sight of Aron’s young son. He was dashing excitedly through the legs of all the adults. For a second he turned towards me, a big grin on his face. I am not sure why but it felt like all of life, all my hopes and fears, everything i have ever felt, was compressed into that one moment, that one look.

Taking the kids to school this morning I walked back through the churchyard. The sky was cobalt blue, and in the background it looked like the Downs were waking up from a long slumber. And that single snowdrop had been joined by hundreds of others.

The Wild Flower archive