Primrose life

Primroses growing at the roadside find a resonance deep in the recesses of the memory, not anything religious, but that sense of irrational optimism that filled childhood years. Primroses bring a sense of the springtime of the year, primroses announce the coming of days that would be very different to the cold darkness of winter in a village that seemed very isolated to a small boy. Primroses always declared the return of the light evenings, of trees shrouded in blossom, of nature rousing itself from its slumbers. Primroses would bring days of playing outside, football in a neighbouring field, bicycle rides on the narrow roads, playing at the house of a friend. The primroses seemed always the greatest of spring flowers.

Primroses always grew under the hedgerows along the roads around the village. At primary school, primroses were the flowers used to decorate little Easter gardens made from moss and stones, with crosses fashioned from ice-lolly sticks.

The sight of primroses, the flourishes of yellow along the green banks of the country lanes, always bring back poignant memories of Miss Rabbage, our schoolteacher who lived alone and drove a little Austin A35 car. Miss Rabbage loved primroses.

One spring evening, back in the mid-Noughties, I decided to search for Miss Rabbage in the BT Phone Book, I had a vain hope of finding her and being able to say “thank you.” Miss Rabbage had retired at the age of sixty at the Easter holiday of 1972. Even in the mid-Noughties, Miss Rabbage would have been in her nineties, if she were still alive. My efforts were in vain, I could find no number, and, even if there had been a number, what would I have said? What do you say after thirty or forty years?

As it turned out, it was only two years ago in 2017 that I discovered Miss Rabbage had died in 2003. Only upon finding her grave on a summer’s evening did I discover that her Christian name had been “Eileen.” It had never occurred to me before that Miss Rabbage had a name other than “Miss Rabbage,” it would have been strange to have heard her called anything else. Were there people in the village who would have spoken her Christian name?

Primroses recall Miss Rabbage and all the things she had taught us. Primroses recall the spring and how much it meant to a small boy in a little village deep in rural England.

It’s a fine time for primroses.

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