Jonathan Dodd‘s latest column. Guest opinion articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the publication. Ed
There’s always a moment somewhere in the early months of the year, when everything changes. It’s like a switch clicks on in my brain. One day it’s cold and miserable and endless, the next it’s all looking forward to sunshine and warmth and colour and light.
This year it happened last weekend, when the sun came out and the skies cleared and I noticed roadside crowds of daffodils and snowdrops and crocuses. Suddenly it was like the year took off its overcoat and rucksack and stopped trudging.
It’s still a thrill
I also noticed the bright yellow flowers on our Forsythia, and when we went for a walk along Shanklin seafront on Sunday the gorse was out too. On Monday morning we drove to Ryde in daylight, and watched the mist gently steaming in the valleys.
I love this island. I’ve only lived here five years, and I have to work over the water, but I’m glad we moved here. Even when I have to work farther away and do a weekly commute, it’s still a thrill to reach the Solent on my way home.
A topiary shark
There are particular things I really like here. There’s a woodland cemetery with a miniature version of Stonehenge. If Findus don’t want my carcass I may wish to end up there, feeding a tree.
There’s a garden centre with a perfect Great Green topiary shark. I like pointing that out to visitors.
I like the monkey sculpted from a tree in Godshill, and the hare on the outskirts of Arreton. I was sad when it was stolen but delighted when it was restored. It has now become customary to dress it up on festive occasions. I remember its Harry Potter outfit, and its Santa suit at Christmas. Excellent!
Small white ghosts
There’s a house I sometimes pass at night that’s covered with ivy, and a flock of white doves roosts all over it like small white ghosts.
I like the lack of dual carriageways and relatively sparse street lighting. On clear nights it’s wonderful to drive up to the car park at the top of the nearby down and stare up at the astonishing clarity of the night sky, jam-packed with stars. I never really saw the Milky Way properly until I moved here (apart from a night on a beach in Tunisia forty-odd years ago, where there were almost as many mosquitoes as stars).
Zig Zag Road
It’s always a thrill to walk on the sand in Ryde at low tide. It seems like I can walk half-way to Southsea sometimes. I haven’t attended the cricket match there yet, or walked round the Martello Tower, but I will.
I like to frighten visitors by driving along Ventnor sea front and then all the way up Zig Zag Road, right to the top. I never thought I’d live near a road called Zig Zag Road.
I like the Maybugs when they buzz through my garden, and the Swifts screaming high in the sky on soft summer evenings, and the giant grasshoppers that sometimes jump three stories into my bedroom. And I’ve seen a wall lizard in Ventnor. I am a proud foster parent of a red squirrel called (suspiciously) Rusty. People on the mainland are horrified when I describe red squirrel roadkill. But they only know grey squirrel roadkill.
The surface of the Moon
Does living here for only five years give me the right to be irritated occasionally? I like to think so. I dislike immensely the roads resembling the surface of the moon, which make every journey a dice with suspension death. I think I’ve mentioned previously the annoying transport deficiencies, and sometimes the whole Little Islander attitude gets me going. We’re not crofters. We have children who need jobs.
Most of all I find the constant carping about the Council and the MP aggravating. In a democracy you get the government you deserve. Vote for someone different next time. How many critics didn’t even bother to vote last time?
But Spring is at hand, and I’m smiling today. Right now, what I like best is OntheWight, for giving me an opportunity to void the contents of my brain once a week. And you, for reading it.
If you have been, thank you for reading this.