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It’s a gorgeous evening, warm with a delicious breeze washing over me, so I nip down to the allotment for some light weeding.

It’s looking good at the moment – the broad beans and sweetcorn are all growing in tidy lines, the grass path is as kempt as it has ever been, the trees are in full leaf with no sign of curl as yet, and even my gooseberries are looking healthy!

I don’t spot the peony at first, but when I do I am ever so slightly overwhelmed. It only has one bud this year (it usually manages three or four) and they only flower for a day or two before collapsing in a heap, flopping over from the strain, petals strewn. It was still in a tight bud yesterday, but you could see that it was ready to explode – I just hadn’t reckoned on it being quite so soon. If I had come tomorrow, it would have already been past its best – I have been lucky.

I gently lift it, and breathe its perfume in deeply – subtle but rich and reminiscent of something I can’t quite put my finger on. My heart is beating – there is joy and tragedy in this short lived glory. Increasingly, as I get older, I find this about spring. The thrill as winter comes to an end and the world awakens, but the sadness at the fleeting show of the blossom. How quickly time passes!

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