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Lifting the Spirits

One of the reasons I absolutely love living here at No 19 is the closeness to nature. I have my garden with all the plants I love and want close to the house, and then, just a jump out of the village there are the endless woods and fields where I go walking with Lu and Wolfie.

I’ve been told that winters here are now much shorter than they ever used to be. Years ago the snow would start falling, and once settled, it would form layer upon layer and this thick blanket of white would remain sometimes until the following May when spring would arrive.

I can’t imagine enjoying such long winters. I know that might sound strange coming from someone who grew up in England, but one of the reasons I continue living abroad is the favourable continental climate. I love a cold winter if I know it’s definitely going to be followed by a spring full of sunshine and blue skies.

Although not nearly as long or cold as they used to be, I find the north Bohemian winters dragging by the time April arrives, and if it’s not sunshine and spring flowers, I start getting restless.

This year also feels a little different… I’m struggling… I actually think many people are. A lot of my friends are feeling low, I’m feeling low and I just can’t snap out of it. The rain and cold are relentless and I know that if we had beautiful sunny days, I still might not feel my best, but I’d feel much better than I do at the moment.

So I have recently started thinking about ways I can lift my spirits. One option is the dogs. Lu loves going for a walk even if he struggles nowadays, and Wolfie needs a good run every morning or he turns into a monster. So I take both dogs out to the edge of the woods and back, we drop Lu off and then go for a run in the forest.

A friend of mine recently told me about some studies that show the connection between forest activities and an increased sense of well-being, stronger immunity, and a general lifting of the spirits. So off to the forest Wolfie and I go every morning and I can’t deny, it’s an amazing environment to be in.

And is it healing? I’m sure it is, and I think it does help. I try to quiet my head, still my thoughts, and focus on what’s around us. It’s amazingly loud. The birds, the stream, even the plants seem to have a voice. And if you stop and listen, it’s even more beautiful.

Flowers are something I’ve always loved and been fascinated by. When I was a child I’d rush out into our garden in early spring to see if the tulips and daffodils had opened. I can still remember the smell and touch of them. They’re like the essence of life itself and they seem to give out that positive energy.

For as long as I can remember I’ve bought plants and potted bulbs in spring, placing them on balconies, windowsills, and around my home wherever it was. I watched crocuses open overlooking the busy Via Marcona in Milan, and in my early twenties my Florence Street windowsill was a barrier of green from which I viewed London.

But that was life in the city, now I live so close to nature is it really necessary to go to such an effort when there is a garden literally on my doorstep? I believe it is.

I was in the DIY store last week and they had a whole host of potted spring bulbs, hydrangeas, and orchids in their gardening section. I found the pieces of wood I’d gone there for, but then couldn’t keep away from the plants. I just wanted to surround myself with them.

Could I justify getting some? Not really. I’ve got so much to do in the house, a shower to build, rooms to clear up, furniture to cover, bags to make, accounts to get done… spending an afternoon potting plants is not really a priority.

And yet, maybe it’s a necessity. If having some plants in the house is going to lift my spirits, make the environment a little more beautiful, then why not?

The orchids were on sale, the hydrangeas a good price, and who can say no to a hyacinth? The upstairs living room is by no means finished... it's kind of ground to a halt. Maybe I need the inspiration of it looking a little more lived in to help me move on with it.

So on a dark, rainy Saturday afternoon in north Bohemia, I sat in my unfinished upstairs living room potting plants.

It wasn’t a productive or even a good use of my time considering everything I’ve got to do, but it made me feel good and even lifted my spirits a little, and sometimes that’s all that matters 💚

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I understand how you feel. I live on the east coast of Canada and am impatiently waiting for warmer weather so I can get out I to the gardens and go to the Atlantic ocean so I can sink my feet into the warm sand. Connecting with nature like that grounds you. It is so good for the soul!

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