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Here Comes the Sun

I feel like I’ve been staring at a John Brack painting all winter. You know the one…

Men and women in grey suits filing down Collins Street looking about as pleased as a pyramid of dead fish left on the jetty for a week. My eyes, my face, my soul have all slowly taken on their pallor and enthusiasm. Walk? I’d rather Uber. Cook? I’d rather eat chocolate in bed with my laptop and two hundred and fifty episodes of intense Scandinavian crime drama where the bad luck never ends. So when the sun hit this month, it hit me square across the jaw, like a solar wake-up call delivered by the celestial fist of a prize fighter.

It was a knockout punch.

Admittedly, I was in a compromised position at the time. I didn’t have a chance to defend myself. It was 5:30pm. I had just settled into my first adho mukha shvanasana for the evening, downward facing dog. The yoga teacher advised us, a class full of hopefuls inflexibly jack-knifed on our respective mats, to breathe in new life and breathe out what could no longer serve a helpful purpose. I tried to visualise each in-breath as a set of lucky numbers (I would remember to buy a TattsLotto ticket) and each out-breath as challenges, frustrations and dubious Spotify choices that were still ricocheting around in my head.

It was precisely then that the sun hit me, through a narrow pane of glass. It first struck me on the chest and worked its way upwards: from the neck to the jaw, chin, lips and the ridge of the nose. My eyes were closed in contemplation. It floored them too. There was no pain or bloodshed. I willingly soaked in the warmth of it.

When the mornings start earlier and the evenings lengthen, you know it’s on the way. When the sun demonstrates an endurance that months ago we’d put aside as impossible and when people spill outdoors with naked arms and t-shirts to lean incredulously, in fact instinctively, towards the sun, you can bet it’s on the way.

Just one day above 15 degrees is enough to renew my belief in the sun and its holy powers, even as it bobs and weaves through the cumulus clouds of spring. This personal faith manifests in all sorts of ways. I add a few upwards strokes of the Lady Gillette to my morning shower routine to prep my legs. I rub 50+ lotion on my nose in case the sun decides to show. I start walking again in streets free of the blight of umbrellas and flooded gutters. I pump the tyres on my bike. When I feel the urge, I do a set of push-ups and squats to dispel the physical stillness of winter and encourage my muscles to move again.

Rain comes and goes, but it’s not enough to break the euphoria caused by the triumphant return of a long lost sun. I think it’s this giddy hope that propels double the number of people to an evening yoga class, or regularly out of bed on Sunday mornings for a clockwise lap of the Tan. All the changes to our daily routines mimic, subconsciously, changes going on outdoors. What might have been unbearable three months ago is now surprisingly easy, thanks to a bit of extra light and a few additional degrees C.

Hallucinating daffodils erupt through barren beds of dirt, rarely alone but in multiples of one hundred, two hundred. The heady scent of jasmine is out in force on the streets, always an early campaigner for the changeover of seasons. Magnolia blossoms follow, like fulsome adverts for the sun. Then golden wattle lights up with bright, pollen-ignited reminders of who and where we are in this fast revolving world. Even the old fig at the back of my apartment building is budding new leaves, so fluorescent it’s hard to consider them part of the same tree that, over many years, has grown through a retaining wall of triple bluestone and double brick to emerge, thick-skinned, tough, resilient.

It won’t be long before the fig tree is covered in leaves again, so great is the tendency towards green at this time of the year. In the markets it shows in the reed avocados, asparagus spears, peas. Peas I buy by the kilo, just to have the sweet-smelling pleasure of podding them. They go in a pan with prosciutto and butter or are paired in a bowl with cos lettuce to create two-tone green salads. When I’m overwhelmed by the noises of renovation happening downstairs I might opt to smash them (so rewarding) with lemon, garlic, parsley, mint and a whole lot of ground pepper on toasted sourdough bread.

The outdoors figures in my life again, thanks to restaurants with street seating and wine bars with courtyards. Thanks to the naïve persistence of a four-month-old border terrier named Lewis, who was born in the winter and has never really seen the sun before. For him everything is new, bright, incredible. When we’re at the park he likes to bring me flowers, first by running off the path and careering into the mass plantings of daffodils and bluebells, then by decapitating several of them at random. Once surrendered at my feet they resemble a soggy, strange bouquet, but a bouquet that I am grateful for regardless.

All great friends bring confidence and warmth when you most need it, frequently disguised as flowers. All great seasons do that, too.

• • •

Sally Wilson knows how to put pen to paper, having contributed to countless publications around the globe including The Planthunter and Alquimie.