February is done. Spring, the season of hope, is lapping at my feet. But the days, the times, remain hard. I’ve been brittle, fragile. More bravado than brave. When I have such days small nothings can spiral me downwards. But equally, small somethings can lighten me, return me to the shore with Spring lapping at my feet.
Here are the small somethings that braced and buoyed me this month. I hope they bring some cheer.
1. Collapsed in Sunbeams by Arlo Parks
There is a particular pleasure of finding and loving an artist long before they become acclaimed. I’ve loved Arlo Parks since I first heard her. Her voice has a lilting, soothing quality, embracing you whilst her poetic lyrics captivate and stimulate.
I’ve been telling everyone to listen to Arlo Parks for two years. She has just released her debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, and is suddenly everywhere. I am so delighted. Every song is gorgeous, and one is called is Hope, which I share here.
2. Spring Flowers by Mother Earth
Is there a more potent symbol of hope than the first flowers of spring? Their simple, unshowy, delicate beauty is more to my tastes than the glorious summer blooms. A sprinkling of primroses, bluebells, daffodils, and most particularly crocuses, will unfurl a gentle smile in my heart.
3. Outrage and Optimism – by Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac, Paul Dickinson
Outrage and Optimism is a weekly podcast about facing the climate crisis with stubborn optimism, so we can thrive beyond it. It is hosted by a trio of climate luminaries, including the joyously charismatic Christiana Figueres, who brought us the Paris agreement. Their networks are unparalleled, as is their weekly guest list. But it is the discussions between them, saturated with their experience, opinion, resolve, irreverence, and camaraderie that makes this podcast special.
You will learn a lot. You will feel a lot. You will be very glad they are fighting for our planet and future.
The simple pleasure of spring flowers brought to my mind another simple pick-me-up I turn to often – poetry. A poem, like a song, can change my mood in an instant. This poem is by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, an all-round awesome woman, who deserves wider appreciation. She was a poet, novelist, journalist, prominent abolitionist, and women's suffrage activist.
We are still trudging on the ground she broke. Like her crocuses, she was first, and inspires us to follow.
They heard the South wind sighing
A murmur of the rain;
And they knew that Earth was longing
To see them all again.
While the snow-drops still were sleeping
Beneath the silent sod;
They felt their new life pulsing
Within the dark, cold clod.
Not a daffodil nor daisy
Had dared to raise its head;
Not a fairhaired dandelion
Peeped timid from its bed;
Though a tremor of the winter
Did shivering through them run;
Yet they lifted up their foreheads
To greet the vernal sun.
And the sunbeams gave them welcome.
As did the morning air
And scattered o'er their simple robes
Rich tints of beauty rare.
Soon a host of lovely flowers
From vales and woodland burst;
But in all that fair procession
The crocuses were first.
First to weave for Earth a chaplet
To crown her dear old head;
And to beautify the pathway
Where winter still did tread.
And their loved and white haired mother
Smiled sweetly 'neath the touch,
When she knew her faithful children
Were loving her so much.
Yours Hopefully is a weekly experiment in living hopefully. With science and song. Why not subscribe and get a post every Sunday in your inbox?