As I left home this morning – not really looking where I was going, my head full of work and the Today programme – I was stopped in my tracks (not literally, I’m not a nutter) by the sight of a blossom tree in full bloom opposite my estate, rejoicing in full sun against an icy-blue London sky. There’s something about blossom, isn’t there? It feels like nostalgia, but I don’t think it is, because it’s felt like nostalgia for as long as I can remember.
I was quite a serious child; my thoughts weighed down by the solemn duties of being the eldest, the complexities of assimilation from my middle-class home into the more robust environment of a Penge primary school, and the ceaseless quest for clandestine chocolate-eating opportunities. So some of my most distinct childhood memories aren’t rooted in the moment, but in the escape from the moment: those few seconds where the world goes away and you feel you’re somewhere else entirely, somewhere all your own. That’s where blossom took me then, and it’s where it takes me now. Snow makes me giddy, sunshine makes me happy, autumn leaves make me wistful and happy at the same time. But seeing blossom is as close as I can imagine to a religious experience.
It’s something about transience, I suppose. The most beautiful things are the ones that don’t last, which is why I’m happier looking at a sunset or a rainbow than I am a painting (because if you’re looking at a painting, how do you know when it’s time to stop? – no, I don’t know why I did an art history degree either).
But it’s also aesthetic. I just can’t think of anything prettier than a blossoming tree. So for all my moaning about the cold winter, I’m still glad to live in a country where the weather changes with the seasons, because sometimes, nothing in the world could make me happier than this: