blessing: beannachadh

— Ower the first green sprigs o’ heather, the muir-fowl faulds his wing, And there’s nought but joy in my ain land at the comin’ o’ the Spring! –
Lady John Scott

It was a late Sunday afternoon. The sun was low and fading, but the day held the promise of spring. We tracked Figgate burn upstream from its final spill into the Forth. It glittered alongside us, disappearing underground, beneath roads and railway bridges, to resurface, leading us to the foot of Figgate Park. It pooled into a reservoir with, at its centre, a pond where otters sometimes play and children feed ducks breadcrumbs from their fingertips.

We followed the park’s path around the trees and over footbridges. We found flowers, early and scentless. Crocuses and primulas around the foot of trunks. Dipping under weeping willows and chestnuts, we followed the burn to its source at the top of the park where it slipped once again from view, under streets and houses.

Warm in my palm in my pocket were my mărţişoare. One crocheted and one jewelled, they are Romanian spring blessings from my partner to celebrate the first of March. They have been folded in pieces of kitchen towel, packed with love into brown envelopes, and sent airmail from Transylvania for him to give to me. I had worn them pinned to my breast for a week before we set out to tie the scarlet and white ribbons to a flowering tree to bring us wealth for the year ahead.

We found a wild apple, young, but with fine, strong branches high up the trunk. My partner looped the thread around the stem, once, twice to be sure, then knotted it. It would hold whilst the blossom blooms and falls, the leaves drift on the wind, and the branches shiver in snow. We stood together with our hopes for a better year in silence hearing only the sounds of bees, and songs of robins and wrens.

We wound homewards, our footsteps light over tarmac and grass, our shadows long. We reached the pond once more where drakes and mallards puttered, and a cormorant stood guard. In the last of the sun it shook itself in a rainbow of droplets, and aired its black wings to dry.

We passed an islet almost hidden by bracken and leaves. There, upon a mound, in the heart of the pond sat a swan high upon its nest. At ease, waiting for its gifts.

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