Seasonal Talk

Tulips in Spring

Here in the United Kingdom we are supposed to have four seasons, each of about three months long; winter, spring, summer and autumn (fall in America) – though sometimes we seem to get them all in one day:  There’s an English saying, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes and it will change”.

In fact, in spite of a frost this morning, winter is finally tailing off and the sun is shining. There are blackbirds poking at the lawn in the hope of finding a juicy snack. So, pretty soon my vocabulary will have to change from words such as frosty, icy, slippery, cold, freezing, snow, to a new group of words for spring: green, warm, showers, sunshine, verdant, growing, buds, catkins, primroses. Holly and mistletoe will be forgotten for the next twelve months, even if they are still in the garden. Daffodils and crocuses are pushing up and the rhubarb is emerging from its winter hibernation. I’ve done the tidying up and the vegetable garden is dug over and lying in wait for all the goodies I’ve got sprouting in the poly-tunnel. Although they are a summer fruit even the first tomato plants are already in their pots and pushing ever upwards.

For the gardener it is the most exciting time of year. I actually get quite a thrill when a seed pot suddenly has green shoots after a while of apparently just sitting there. Every day there are new things to notice. Yesterday there were swede seedlings; today it was Green Zebra Tomatoes and some peas. The broad beans are well ahead and in a few weeks I’ll be planting the runner beans.

Spring is also the time for new birth in the animal kingdom. My daughter is head of primates in a zoo, and so she is looking forward to lots and lots of babies in the next month or so – from gibbons to marmosets, and lemurs and all the rest. In the fields the very first lambs are making an impact as they spring about on skinny little legs. Birds are soon going to build their nests.

It might be quite different where you are – just a dry season or a wet season, or, most unchanging of all, a tropical climate with even temperatures all year round. And yet there are still seasons.

As a child, one day everyone was skipping, or playing football then suddenly the ground was dry and hard and we could play marbles and cricket. Even our games had seasons.

There are new school terms perhaps to divide the year up. For the Christian there is Easter to look forward to, although first comes Lent – six weeks to consider one’s faith afresh. That has its own vocabulary too – Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, repentance, salvation. You may follow a different faith, but that too will have its on special words and seasons. Could you talk about it in English? What special words would you need? Words such as faith, prayer, repentance, alms, holiness, sanctification. Some of these aren’t words we use in everyday life, just as we don’t usually need words such as ‘holly’ in spring, but there are still times when it is good to explain to someone what you believe and why so if you have a faith that you follow. Why not find out that special vocabulary in English. If you are a Christian try reading the Bible in a modern English translation alongside the version you have in your own language. Mark’s gospel is a good place to start as the language is simple and uses easy verb forms. You will read about Jesus, but also become more familiar with everyday phrases such as ‘he went’, ‘he walked’, ‘they came’ and so on.

Many other situations have their own particular vocabulary – in any business for instance, towards the end of the financial year, they might speak of ‘profit margins’ and ‘sales figures’, ‘unit price’ etc. Then there’s the everyday stuff, equipment with special names – photocopier, laser printer, water cooler. Why not keep a notebook with pages for various situations so that you can collect the vocabulary into groups – Seasons, sports, office, college and so on. How long a list can you get in a month I wonder?