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  • Jodie Harburt

Spring in Istanbul

The story of nature and nurture continues like an undercurrent....the irrevocable connection that makes us a part of the evolving story of this planet.

Spring feels like the start of something. It tricks us with intermittent flurries of snow and days of grey, but gives rise to the yearning for summer’s nonchalant arrival. Spring is taut anticipation of the emergence of new from the old and warmth from the cold.

Many of us identify the seasonal changes with transition in our lives. While New Year’s pesky resolutions are renowned for being a false start nature beckons us to synchronize with her schedule for rebirth. Spring brings new buds bursting forth with fresh, vibrant petals and the unfurling of soft tendrils and verdant leaves as they stretch out to catch the rays, each a testimony to the tenacity and perseverance of life having spent winter hunkered down throughout the cold and dark. With the first splattering of sunlight a new story is ready to be told.

Every terrain has its own gifts and along the Bosphorus Istanbul becomes awash with the deep pink haze of the ubiquitous Erguvan blossom. The twisted serpent trunks of winter hardy Wisteria erupt into exuberance attracting bees from near and far. We can peek into the gaping mouths of the luscious, lilac blooms, check we are not disturbing a pollinator and inhale the scent. Despite the city, marigold, poppy and other spring ephemeral poke cheekily through the mortar gaps. Anywhere that is even a tiny bit wild bursts forth with narcissus and crocus as if

inciting us to also press refresh. We can slow down long enough to bend and touch the soft, mossy cracks between the pavements, this is what your finger tips

need, not just the hard smooth of your screen as we swipe ourselves to oblivion. We can visit the shores of Marmara or the Black Sea and allow the cold water to caress our naked feet, becoming one with it and everything else that it touches in the cycle of life. The seasons are our metronome ticking ever patient and persistent rooting us in the time and space and reminding us of the irrefutable integrity of our planet.

Where ever I am in Istanbul I find traces of nature to keep me in balance with what is true and whole. The asphalt, concrete and glass are only as relevant as the space they allow for nature to thrive among them; a smidge of garden along a walkway, a hanging basket upon a lamppost, the municipality’s enthusiasm for tulips and the migrating birds overhead between the plane trails. We humans and our contrivances could have remained merely a passing flicker in the eye of our planet, or maybe a grain of grit, yet our inability to see beyond our present story has turned our progressively bumbling presence into one that is detrimental to what (without us) had seemed like perfect design. Every creature leaves its mark, ours however is more of a terrible, septic scar. The seasons will continue to pass, whether we have ice caps or not, even if our debris has choked the oceans and despite the remaining flora and fauna and us being forced to adapt, evolve and migrate.

The story of nature and nurture continues like an undercurrent, bubbling and murmuring as it passes through us. It is up to us to dip our fingers in, to feel the irrevocable connection that makes us a part of the evolving story of this planet. It is up to us to decide what role we will take and to design the character that defines us. It is the most thrilling adventure of all time.

The question that this spring brings to me is whether we can rewrite our story, whether we can find a new beginning and emerge to find ourselves reborn into a world that we are finally ambitious enough to become compatible with. I invite you to challenge yourself to the deepest of spring-cleans, let us together chuck out all our warped ways and adopt at least one new thing, for instance resolve to never use another disposable plastic water bottle, straw or bag again and instead always carry our own refillable bottles and cloth bags. I’ve made real progress in these and I invite you to check out my blog for more information as to how this and other small steps can be taken to ensure that we as a species get to revel in the joys of many more springs.

This article was also published in the May - June issue of Lale Magazine.

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