Today, the spring equinox marks the first day of astronomical spring, when day and night are almost exactly the same length.
It is a turning point for the year, with the lengthening of days and the arrival of warmer weather, and during these uncertain times, spring this year is more welcomed than ever by many.
Mallard ducks amongst daffodils in the garden at Erddig, Wrexham, Wales/Credit: National Trust images, John Millar
For the second year running, the National Trust in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Land Lines, is urging people to write 150 words on the start of spring for their crowd-sourced digital nature diary.
The first entry, entitled ‘Writes of spring’, took place in 2019, and involved more than 400 people who wrote about wildlife, weather, and what spring means to them in order to capture the season in writing.
A view across the gardens at Hill Top. Beatrix’s garden provided the perfect outlet for her love of nature and her delight in simple, rustic beauty/Credit: National Trust Images, James Dobson
During 2020, the entry may well be more meaningful to people, with many in isolation or experiencing anxiety during these uncertain times as the world fights against coronavirus.
Understanding that nature can provide comfort during times of anxiety, the National Trust believes that taking part in writing the diary entry could be particularly therapeutic for people this year.
For those whose movements are less restricted, they can venture out into the countryside to observe and be inspired by the first glimpses of spring. But even those in living in isolation are able to take part by making observations in their gardens, or even through windows.
Early morning walk at Fell Foot, Cumbria/Credit: National Trust, John Millar
As the nation adapts to a very different way of life over the coming months, the initiative gives people the opportunity to engage with the nature that surrounds them, offering benefits to both their physical and mental health.
“Spring is the turning point of the year, when we can step outside without a winter coat and feel the warmth of the sun on our face,” says The National Trust’s nature expert, Andy Beer, “But for many of us, this year’s spring will feel very different.
“In these uncertain times, nature can offer comfort and calm. Right now, wildlife is busy waking up, trees are bursting into blossom and garden birds are singing. Nature is here for all of us — whether we experience it in our garden or local park, or simply through the window.”
Participants have until midnight on 20 March to submit their entries, which can take the form of poem or prose. These will then be curated on a special spring blog. Following this, nature writer Natasha Carthew will produce a creative essay using the nation’s observations as inspiration.
People can upload their entires and any accompanying photos via springnaturediary.com and share them on social media using #springnaturediary.