Spring

purple-flowersToday I saw spring in my granddaughter’s eyes as she carried fresh soil, white pansies and lavender alyssum to fill a flower box outside her bedroom window. She was excited and intent, but took time away from gathering gravel to climb high into the limbs of a sheltering tree. 

I felt spring in the buckets of water that fell on my head, as I walked down the steps to the garden to see how many of my State Fair Zinnias were left standing. The slugs have been busy turning the leaves from sturdy and strong to a fragile hole-ridden lace. 

I heard spring in my husband’s voice as he described his students outdoor tennis match, and his hope that the window of billowing white clouds and blue skies would hold long enough for them to finish. 

Dark blankets of rain push against Oregonians, who are already soaked to the core, then pull back for moments of sun, to tease, invite and send messages of hope for better days to come.

Spring is like a new puppy that sits in your lap, all warm and cuddly, then goes to the corner and eats your best shoes.

Tulips

tulips-in-snowThere are a dozen tulips in vibrant hues of spring sitting on my table.

Snow is forecast for tomorrow, but I give it no credibility or staying power. How could it stay at the beginning of March? It’s blowing at us with one more arctic push to remind us of the cold we’ve endured and the visual purity it held.

Oh, but the tulips. The tulips speak with a different voice. Theirs is full of hope, promise and birth. They hold visions of soil wanting to be turned, skin-warmed faces and doors that swing unlatched and open.

I send my mother tulips in the spring. Tulips and pansies comfort her.

I sent my younger sister tulips when she finished her masters degree in library science at the age of fifty-eight. Her thank you photo still smiles from my refrigerator. She is radiant in a dark green shirt, purple apron and curly brown hair. The vase is tenderly held in her motherly hands, as tulips burst open in yellows, reds and orange.

Tulips have no pretense. They are a rainbow made tangible, a kaleidoscope of color, a lover’s whisper. They turn my thoughts to the garden, but I won’t plant this year. The soil is better suited to brick making than food. The deer beat me to the tender sprouts of spinach and lettuce I sneak in the earth, and I have no heart to fence, so there you have it. This spring, I will sit on the deck and write and listen to the birds, then move under the cedar trees to nap in the hammock.

Our sleds are still propped outside the door as I imagine this promise of warmth. It’s time to put them in the barn, and make room for planters and outdoor grilling. The tulips on the table arch toward the earth, opening and unfolding as I long to unfold myself into the welcome arms of spring.

Opening act

 

lavenderI have time and space to write today, but nothing bubbles to the surface. I want to write. I close my eyes and search the calm inner space of my mind for a glimmer of an idea, an image or focus that will catch my attention and excite me, much like watching a trout rise from the water. I want the literary sound of the reel, the sudden release of line, and the contest that ensues. I wait for the part where I hold my breath in anticipation, wondering what lurks around the corner. I want to step out of time, because I am so entranced by the tale unfolding that I forget to eat, don’t notice the ache in my fingers, and resent sleep for taking me away from the excitement of creation.

That is what I wait for, but that is not what comes. After years of struggle I have finally accepted that all things have a season, and that pushing my will against the flow of life does no good. Fall is my season for writing. Cozy fires, pies baking in the oven and gentle consistent rains create a yearning to reach inside, to journey into unknown realms, to define my intention, and get blissfully lost in the process of discovery. Words and ideas tumble freely from other realms as I nest in my house. I become a willing scribe and witness.

But today it is not fall or even winter. It is spring in all its radiant glory. Large Japanese peonies reach eagerly for the sun, thread-like green tentacles wrap around bamboo as snow-peas burst into life, and spinach leaves dance large and open against black soil. Spikes of swiss chard reach skyward in shades of red, joined by corn stalks, sweet peas and cucumbers. It is nature’s opening act. The dark curtains of winter have dramatically drawn back. I stand awe-struck and humbled as I watch life reach into the light and become whole. It is a miraculous birthing that commands complete attention.

In honor of this change of season, morning meditations have moved from our candle lit parlor to a blanketed lawn chair in the garden. The birdbath lays quiet, fresh and wet near my elbow, as I breathe the scent of cedar trees. I dutifully close my eyes and fall into my breath as it enters and leaves my body, allowing moments without boundaries. The wind in the trees, high-pitched birdcalls, and the splashing of wild ducks in the pond become part of my hearing and part of each breath. They become part of me. The touch of sun on my face, part of my skin.

There is no pushing or pulling in this place. There is no striving. This is a place of allowing and being. It is a place of peace and rest. It teaches me about who I am and who I am not.

There is a black cat, I have befriended; a feral cat that did not allow touch and could not trust. I have named her Depa. She watched me for a month of mornings, then leapt into my lap, circled, clawed and rubbed her wet nose against my hand. She too has found a home in this quiet space. She joins me daily now, welcome and expected.

When this ritual is complete, I open my eyes and stare into the gathering of trees that hold my garden terrace like a strong loving hand. They are ancient and varied, a community of elders. I look forward to spending time in their company, and imagine their gaze on me as I arrange borders of blue-grey river rocks, inspect new sprouts of lettuce, tuck compost around roses, and pour white vinegar on encroaching Morning Glories. I shovel paths that lead to quiet nooks of solitude, rest on transported tree stumps, and fasten chicken wire over fresh soil to discourage Depa from using our garden as her litter box.

No, this is not a time to hide away in the house fumbling with the keys and frustration of a computer. I am midwife and steward to the garden. It is time to celebrate and tend the journey each seed will make as it reaches, stretches and unfolds into an abundant harvest. I would not miss it for the world.

written 5-5-06