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The Quickening

Soon, like every year around the middle of February, I will start feeling it: The Quickening. It's a growing sense of urgency, of expectancy and excitement. It's like something is about to happen, but if you asked me, I would not be able tell you what it was.

fern fiddleheadI would tell you to go outside, where there are some trees and a little wildlife, find somewhere to stand or sit quietly and use all your senses to to perceive what you can. You might smell the warming soil, the fungal, spicy scent of leaf litter and moss. You'll most likely hear the calls of the birds, chaffinch and pigeon, telling you “soon, soon”! As the sun breaks through the clouds you'll squint at the unexpected brightness and the breeze chilling your ears will seem to want to take you somewhere. You might notice that in response your spirit lifts and an eerie feeling of anticipation settles within and you know what's meant by "bright eyed and bushy tailed", 'cause that just how you feel, all ready for it!

stone spiralThat's the Quickening, every year, and all of nature responds to it. It happens quite a while afore spring, but is fed in part by memories of that most exciting season when all that has lain dormant through winter once more awakens. It holds the promise that this year, anything is possible.

These days, my husband and I joke that when we look at the BBC news or Guardian websites, we're getting our daily dose of bad news . This is black humour, of course, but as headlines speak of deepening economic troubles, increasing numbers of unemployed, cuts in benefits and stirrings towards yet another war, there seems little enough to feel cheerful about. Yet look behind those headlines and what you find are different kinds of stories. Ordinary people are waking up to the injustices and inequalities of their regimes. From the Arab Spring to Occupy and protest marches against austerity in Europe, something is happening. This isn't the usual kind of protest with simple demands and ready answers, but rather something that is raising questions on a far more fundamental level, expressing doubts about our moral and ethical values and the kind of society these have helped to create. The protests are asking if there really isn't a better way and why don't we just get on with it? And again, the aspirational spirit of these uprisings have a power that leaves even the most cynical amongst us with a feeling of imminence and inevitability. In Egypt the uprisings were accompanied by the songs of Sayyid Darwish, a singer songwriter remembered from a previous revolution, inspiring today's young people with memories of hope and love.  

Back here in Wales, a sleepy dragon yawns and stretches, scratches itself behind one ear and rises. It is time. Transition Bro Ddyfi Trawsnewid will be meeting for the first time in many months. What is bringing us back together this time is not the dire state of the world, but rather the ripples from things we created in the past: the fruit trees that were planted in Machynlleth have grown well and are in need of a prune. Ffrwyth i Bawb or Fruit for All is our "visible manifestation", a show to the world that we were there and now a reminder to ourselves that there is still a lot of work to do. I look forward to us all sitting together again and feel that this year, anything is possible!


Adrienne Campbell's picture

thank you

I've stopped reading the news but like you know deep down that the unravelling is a necessary part of the transition. Thanks for reminding me.

Mark Watson's picture

"the ripples from things we created in the past"

I love this Ann, coming back together because the fruit trees need a prune! Just lovely.

Marella Fyffe's picture

The Quickening

 Hi Ann,

Nice piece and so like us here in Omagh, deep in hibernation but starting to stir ....

Best Marella

Ann Owen's picture


Thanks for your lovely comments guys, and good luck with the stirring Marella, it's sure to be worthwhile...

hugh owens's picture


Just discovered your site ann with  the odd words with no vowels. Nevertheless there are some words I recognized and having welch ancestors, it's a pleasure to see folks from my lost tribe up to  some good. Wish things were quickening here in the mountains of Wyoming but we still have over 3' of hard moisture against the cabin but we too are thinking of getting back in the greenhouse in a few months! Loved the bender article...not much use here with snow and howling winds...we build ice caves tho'! Best to you. hugh Owens(formerly owen)

Caroline Jackson's picture

Words and pictures

Hi Ann

I just loved the way the words and pictures went together, the colours and shapes.  I hardly read the sense of it but the quickening message shone through. 

For me the quickening is always when the birds call in the cold early darkness of a working morning in January.  Heard them this morning as I put my blog up!