Spring in the air in West London. The trees are loaded with blossom. Cherry pink and apple blossom white. It’s a familiar sight.
The local cherry trees bloom at different times. In the roads near ours there has been plenty of blossom for the last two weeks. A mile away, on the well-known road leading down to the graveyard where my mother is buried, there is hardly any. 25 years ago, on 18 April (the day of my mother’s funeral), the cherry blossom was at its peak. We observed it as the limousine took us at walking pace to the graveside. We discussed the much-repeated story (in my family at least) that the Queen Mother was driven down that same street at this time of year to admire the cherry blossom.
This year, for the first time that I can remember, there is an unfamiliar sound from all the blossoming trees. Stand underneath one and you will hear buzzing, as loud as the noise from a beehive. Look up and you will see scores of bees working away. Walk away. The sound diminishes. As you approach the next tree, the same sound can be heard, again as if you are approaching a beehive.
I am typing these words at the drop-leaf table that I have sat at for much of my life. Most of my school homework was done at this table. It is positioned in the bay window on the first floor, at the front of the house. The windows are closed, though it’s warm outside. There is an apple tree to my right. I can count dozens of bees going about their business. A couple of them have strayed off course and flown into the glass repeatedly. Maybe they are drunk on nectar. I will keep the windows closed. I can’t hear it, but I know that the noise coming from the tree is louder than anything I have ever heard at this time of year.