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.

Short but powerful

motor-dogThere is sun coming through my window. Amazing! Real honest-to-goodness sunlight is spilling all over the living room in eye-squinting excess. Oregonians don’t know what to make of sunlight. We are stunned into silent disbelief, while our brain cells race around trying to remember if we stored our sunglasses near the fleece blankets or under wool socks.

This is February’s gift, that little tough orphaned month that reminds us that winter really will end. It stimulates memories of open windows, screen doors that bang closed, bright colored cottons, and skin that gets darker than a bed sheet.

What is not to like about February? 

It doesn’t have Novembers tryptophan-induced naps near the Thanksgiving table.

It doesn’t require pine bough sacrifice, or homage laid at its feet in lights, ribbons and bows like December.

It doesn’t freeze you to the bone, and require the fault-finding resolutions of January.

No, February is short but powerful. If it were a punctuation mark, it would be a dash, separating the worst of winter from the promise of spring. It steps on the world stage saying, I won’t stay long. I don’t take up as much room as the others. I’m just here to give you a glimpse of hope when you least expect it, and to make sure that January and March don’t slam up against each other, causing grief for professional astrologers. The only thing I’ll ask of you, is to think about who you love, and how you want to let them know.

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