Each year now seems to turn at the speed of a Ferrari wheel, the annual cycle of life, death, sleep and rebirth spinning faster as birthdays flit past. A year of childhood passes by in slo-mo, days and weeks stretching ahead so far that the calendar seems to be made of loose knicker elastic. It’s all too true, that old maxim about time speeding up with age; it’s to do with the ratio of a given period to one’s life span. A year, to a four year-old, is twenty percent of his whole life. To me, nearly 60, it’s the blink of an eye.
Spring begins, officially, on 1st March, celebrated by the ancient festival of Mărţişor. Flowers and tiny tokens with their distinctive red-and white tassels are given to friends, lovers, family and neighbours – even grumpy old bats like me – as symbols of good luck, affection and friendship to celebrate the season’s start.
Summer comes in on the first day of June – Children’s Day in Romania; the weather doesn’t always co-operate – the first half of the month in 2016 was more like March than June, and my peonies and lilies stayed shivering in their buds until July warmed them enough to open. Once Sânzienele – 24th June – is past, the summer really starts to heat up, and even Măgura at 1,000 metres altitude can have days in the high thirties. Măgura is a lodestone for nature lovers, hikers, climbers, birdwatchers, botanists and bear fans…
On Hallowe’en, I was lazing in the garden soaking up the sun in breathless 20C air, feeling only mildly guilty that I was making the most of this glorious weather instead of working. I had been down to Zărneşti, a slow journey as the autumn flames were at their brightest in the forest, leaves glowing and gleaming in the sun, as if cast in molten gold and bronze, backlit by the azure sky.
The Romanian winter of 2010/11 was the worst for 40 years – not the easiest reintroduction for a townie to frozen rural life. On 5th December, the odd snowflake began to fall at lunchtime, and I thought nothing of it. By nightfall, two feet had fallen, and I woke on the Sunday to a silent white world.