For me, the first weeks of January can feel pretty depressing after the weeks of Christmas anticipation – suddenly, there's nothing much to look forward to, you feel obliged to assume a state of permanent guilt regarding anything remotely enjoyable, and is there anything sadder than the sight of all those faded Christmas trees heartlessly abandoned in the gutter, or sprawled across pavements like arboreal winoes? "I used to be something!" they seem to bellow. "You shoulda seen me a couple of weeks ago – lights! Tinsel! I was beatiful, I tell ya – beautiful... " before being slung into a council lorry and minced into woodchips.
"I coulda been a contender!"
Not so much 'On the Waterfront' as 'On the Pavement'.
Nope, it's not a time of year that's generally full of cheer, just the crispy, abandoned or flabby reminders of recent good times.
I'm very lucky to live a 5 minute walk from the Thames and I'm not sure exactly when it happens, but there's always a day for me, usually in January or February, when something happens to bring some light to this post-festive gloom. It might be the smell of something blossomy, or some particularly optimistic and insistent birdsong. More likely, though, it's the sight of snowdrops – just one or two poking through the soggy black leaves, or, if I'm really lucky, a little carpet of them.
I don't know what it is about them that I love so much – maybe it's just the optimism they bring, the promise of better times ahead after so many months of permanently sodden blackness that characterises the river bank in winter. Maybe it's the simplicity of them – the delicate, white bells as neat as little dance frocks, so unassuming and shy despite their perfection.
Whatever it is, I know they give me happy little stirrings, so I've dug out some snowdrop themed images that might, I hope, push doggedly through the black, soggy layer of the post-Christmas blues... And if you'd like to see some in the flesh (as it were), here's the National Trust's guide to the UK's Top Spots for Snowdrops.
Above: French Printed Book endpapers 1920s/30s?
Above: Snowdrop motif Coffee Cup and Saucer
(credited to Susie Cooper but I'm not 100% sure: see more Susie Cooper here)
Above: Cigarette card
Above: Liberty Art Fabrics
Above: stylised snowdrops page from a book on how to draw in an Art Nouveau style
Above: vintage book cover
Above: Drum lampshade covered in original snowdrop print fabric by Charlotte Mudd on Etsy, aka MuddIllustration
Above: A blast from my childhood: Flower Fairies,
Printed between 1928 and 1940 by Blackie & Son Ltd
Above: 1920's Vintage Wallpaper via HannahsTreasures on Etsy
Top: beautiful snowdrop print by Stuart Brocklehurst on folksy
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