We’re half-way through April and it looks as though the stray blizzards may have ceased for this season…..or not. Spring always comes, but sometimes I crave freshness and newness before the season actually arrives, and this year, everyone’s spirits have been a bit low because cold and snow extend so far into April. If we look closely enough though, reassurance is out there; there are signs; a sprouting sunflower seed beneath the bird feeder, a robin’s song, the swelling of lilac buds and a slight tinge of red in the maple trees. Also, the cats are turning somersaults and ripping up and down trees; obvious indications of rampant spring fever!!
Edwin Way Teale says: “Now I see around me the beginning of a flood of life that nothing can halt. Seeds have expanded and split. Sprouts have driven up toward the light. All the noiseless, resistless push of spring has begun………I have seen many evidences of the power of growth. Peas, planted in a flower pot, once lifted and thrust aside a heavy sheet of plate glass laid over the top. When thick glass bottles were filled with peas and water, and tightly sealed, the germinating seeds developed pressures sufficient to shatter the glass……….and at the American Museum of Natural History…in some of the large animal skulls, the bones are fitted together so tightly that they are almost locked in place. Forcing them apart often results in fractures, so museum workers resort to swelling peas. They pack the skulls with dried peas and place them in water. In the course of only a few hours, the mounting pressure of the swelling seeds has forced apart the interlocking joints. Undamaged, the skull falls apart into its different elements.” These might be fun experiments, but now knowing these things makes a very good reason to listen to our mothers when they said: “Don’t ever put peas up your nose!!”
Other changes than winter to spring are constantly whirling all around us ---- sometimes welcome and sometimes not. We recently heard that the barn on the farm where Kerm grew up had been demolished and was a smoldering heap. This is hard. One wonders at the lack of regard for skillful building, still-usable wood and community history. It is bad enough to see barns sagging and empty as we drive along, but a home barn is connected to us by tendrils of memory and experiences of which we may not even be totally aware. When it is possible to name each cow that was ever in that barn, losing that symbol of home is a blow.
Then I heard from a friend that the house where I grew up is once again for sale. How very tempting it is to just go and BUY it!! This would be regardless of the fact that living in what is now Rochester’s suburbia, would be most annoying to lovers of rural areas. If only we could pick the house up and move it here! It is just difficult to contemplate strangers pulling up hardwood flooring that I helped to put down, treading stairs where I knew how to avoid each creak or enclosing the front porch that stood proudly with its Grecian pillars for a lot of years. That kind of change engenders some grumpiness on my part.
Of course, we must learn to cope with these little disappointments if we choose to keep going forward in our lives. Disappointments and acquired flexibility are probably training for more difficult changes, which, as we get older, seem to multiply at an astonishing rate. One hopes that years will bring us the wisdom and the capacity to cope with life’s u-turns and zigzags, but sometimes we are slow learners. And sometimes ---- “A burden of these years is the temptation to cling to the times and things behind us rather than move to the liberating moments ahead. A blessing of these years is the invitation to go light-footed into the here and now ---- because we spend far too much of life preparing for the future rather than enjoying the present.” (Joan Chittister**)
Kerm and I have both lived through more than a few losses and now we note shifts of life-styles among us: friends moving to smaller abodes; the need to stock up on sympathy cards; finding ourselves far more tired after a day of running hither and yon; indulging in thoughts of a compact five-room house with a smaller garden, and meals brought in. Change is with us whether or not we like it. We can kick and scream with hostile resistance or we can decide that we will turn those necessary changes into life-enhancing experiences in some way. To quote a little sign I saw this week: “There is always, always something for which to be grateful.” Recognizing it tests our awareness and creativity sometimes, but it can be found.
I had a lovely happening recently. In a spring magazine, I noticed that the garden in one article was owned by someone with the same name as my great uncle ---- and was in a western state where some of the family had moved. Having lost touch with this branch of the family, this piqued my interest immediately. I wrote a letter to the magazine and enclosed a letter to the garden-owners. This week, a letter came from those same garden-owners. This means that magazine editors were kind enough to pass on my correspondence and the gardeners were pleasant enough to write back ---- even though, it seems, they may not be family connections after all. Or if they are, they don’t know it. But what a fun and interesting occurrence, to brighten a wintery April day.
The grass is greener after Monday’s rains. I had a whole flock of gold finches patrolling the lawn --- obviously getting something as they pecked away. We were quite glad to escape the ice that was problematic just a little north of us. We continue to have snow showers, but my daffodil leaves and day lilies are now about 8 inches tall and only need a couple of days of sunshine and warmth to burst forth. Sara Teasdale*** speaks well to this time of the year: “The roofs are shining from the rain, The sparrows twitter as they fly, And with a windy April grace, The little clouds go by. Yet the back yards are bare and brown with only one unchanging tree ---- I could not be so sure of Spring save that it sings in me.”
*Edwin Way Teale--- Circle of the Seasons. 1899-1980. American naturalist, photographer & writer.
**Joan Chittisster ---- The Gift of Years. Born 1936. Roman Catholic nun, activist, writer and Academic.
***Sara Teasdale --- “April”-American lyric poet. 1889-1933
Carol may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.