On a sunlit May morning last week, before starting our work for the day, my sister and I paid a visit to Cross O’Cliff Orchard in Lincoln. An historical orchard concealed behind buildings in the middle of a residential area of the city, you can easily walk past the entrance without ever realising that a green haven lies at the end of the narrow footpath. We last visited in Autumn, when the branches of the fruit trees were weighed down with apples and pears that locals are welcome to pick. This time it was the spring blossom that drew us.
We arrived at the meadow a little after 7AM. It was a gorgeous morning. The light was beautifully pure as it sifted through delicate white blooms and fresh green leaves. The air was heavy with the sweet scents of apple and pear blossom. The ground was carpeted in forget-me-nots. Ash, elder and hawthorn dotted the area, and deer ghosted through the trees, their presence barely noted before they’d vanished again from sight. Birds trilled their songs all around us as they flitted from branch to branch, their chorus of cheerful song almost enough to drown out the constant hum of traffic from the busy road nearby.
We followed paths that divided and merged and looped, a maze-like network that wandered around and through the trees with no discernable pattern. We let our feet carry us whichever way they willed as our attention was drawn from rotting deadfalls brimming with life, to clumps of white forget-me-nots amongst the blue, and on to gnarled trees that must have stood for centuries as the city grew and evolved around them.
A closer investigation of the plants growing on the woodland floor revealed a variety of other flowers, such as bluebells and buttercups, hidden amongst the mass of forget-me-nots. Fern fronds slowly unfurled in the morning sun. Nettles threatened any bare skin that strayed too close to their deceptively innocent looking leaves. Dewdrops glistened in the long grass. With each newly discovered sight, my camera clicked away, capturing the ephemeral beauty of Spring before it fades to allow for Summer’s wild exuberance.
Eventually we had to take our leave of the orchard, the necessary tasks of the day ahead drawing us away. Reluctantly, we walked back along the path to Cross O’Cliff Hill, returning to the bustle of the city and leaving the green haven behind us. But the early morning walk had left us feeling grounded and revitalised, ready to face whatever the day would bring. Hopefully, we’ll visit again soon.