There is an unusual breeze in Yangon today. The leaves are whispering, throwing decayed leaves, which had been sleeping undisturbed for months, down to the ground. There they gather in little bundles, stirring as each new gusts sweeps over them. Little blossoms on the tree promise mangoes in the coming weeks. New frangipani buds reach up towards the sun, gently watched over by sibling petals new to the world. The air feels heavier, as moisture gathers and the afternoon heat builds.
The season is shifting. The daytime warmth is now an uncomfortable, sticky heat and we start to yearn for the rains. The cool mornings have started to warm a little, but not as much as the seasonal usual. And not enough to nurture the budding mangoes. I fear a poor mango season is ahead.
On my way to work the other morning, I stopped near the traffic lights as usual to buy strings of threaded jasmine blossom. The regular seller handed me my strings, and as I moved forward I lifted them to my face without thinking, breathing in the sweet scent. He ran back towards me, proffering a small blossom of the newly flowering tree, known as the university blossoms, the Myanmar word sounding to me like “gangkaw”. “It smells good” he told me in Myanmar, and gave me the stem to take with me before disappearing into the traffic again to sell his flowers. These moments warm my soul, and brighten my outlook. Especially when my personal outlook is clouded by the next rounds of scans and checks, which will be upon me before the month is out. I try and put these thoughts to the side, hiding them in the heady, heavy sweetness of the flowers watching over me.
The sight of the flower on my desk throughout the day brought many remarks and smiles. I learned that there are many of these blossoms on trees flowering at the university. The flower is associated with students, learning, summer, graduation and the forthcoming Thingyan Water Festival. As the season shifts, there are signs all around. The first glimpses of jacaranda, plastic padauk flowers for sale and the proliferation of the Gangkaw flowers with their sweet, heavy scent.
It is hard to imagine that on this day a year ago, I arrived in Scotland and was greeted by perishing temperatures and snow. But as the season shifts here, those signs are visible across the globe too. The stretching of the daylight hours in Scotland, and the appearance of snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils all heralding the coming spring.
Therefore, I have chosen to change my background image, to one of the Island of Lismore, Scotland which was actually taken a a few years ago when I spent a number of weeks there in my father’s home early that year.