While New Year’s Day is supposedly all about resolving and planning and looking for major shifts, to me it’s Spring that is the promise of real potential. Buds open, new leaves unfurl, bulbs burst forth, all a reminder of what summer will offer. These scattered days of brilliant sunshine are when garden genes and jeans come out of the closet, and shoveling and sorting seeds are a welcome celebration. The raspberry brilliant green leaves promise new life, the blueberry blossoms are the promise of sweetness, and you have about two seconds before the big chores begin in earnest, before the weeds give serious notice, before the sweat and backaches and endless food processing. Now is just the lead up, whetting your appetite, an inspiration that delves deep into the heart. The garden, like art, allows us to produce the miracle of making something from nothing, and when Spring springs out, you want to do it all, and do it now. I might have even thought, for a passing moment, “Gee, I wish the garden were even bigger!” One by one the garden beds get turned and refilled and the worms seem just as happy as we are.
All of Portland loses its mind on a day like this. We head out to soak up a winter’s worth of soul sustaining sunshine. It’s the promise that yes, change will come, even if it rains all the rest of this week. It’s the acknowledgement that we did survive whatever personal hell was our winter. Yesterday it was the end-ish of my third cold of the season, and a soothing personal message to my immune system that it won’t have to work quite so hard after this, that there will be days in plenty when I can do all the things I’ve been hoping to do, do all the things that hovered in the periphery while my focus was more on home and hearth. It’s a day that makes you glad to be alive even when the day before you were groaning and moping. It gives Alan hope that I might actually be able to help him out with all these exciting new chores.
The crows have been giving me a show, which I’ve entitled “Brothel in the Sky,” as they soar back and forth around and over and through the remaining bare trees The males chase females, males chase off other males, and the victorious one is allowed brief moments of ecstasy atop the female, after which the couple separates, perched a small distance away from each other, the male resting up (I imagine a cigarette in his mouth), and the female looking like she’s doing push-ups with her tail. Perhaps she’s making sure it all takes, or maybe it’s the last tremors of ecstasy; clearly I know nothing about how birds do it. But the entertainment value is high throughout these springy days, and I’m a captive audience.
My father had several songs and poems and quotes that he would reel off at various times, and I always think of him in Spring with, “Spring has sprung, the grass is riz.” He wasn’t always cheery, as he would also moan theatrically, “I am old, I am old, I wear my trousers rolled,” or at other times, in answer to my “Oh dad!” he would intone in a melancholy voice, “Oh dad, poor dad, mama’s hung you in the closet and you’re feeling so sad,” and I would laugh and he would be so happy about that.
Spring is a mix of memories of Marches past. Both my parents, as well as Alan’s dad,all died in March. My brother-in-law had a stroke (though happily recovered) and also his mother died in March. I think back on the Santa Barbara “March Miracle” when rain poured down on our drought stricken city, and the kids and I went out in the street in a rubber raft, floating back and forth, as an outhouse floated by. This March, my friends in the south are battening hatches for yet another round of flooding and mudslides, insult to injury, even as their reservoirs are filling and their snowpack deepens. They’re getting a different message, and I send my sunny thoughts their way, hoping that the next round of dry weather creates some growth that will cement the soil to the earth and keep it where it’s supposed to be.
But March is when Alan and I first hooked up after a few months of flirtation and innuendo and a lot of Grateful Dead, 41 years ago (and yes I have to do the math every damn time).
So, March you are forgiven, you are welcomed and embraced. Come what may, you bring Spring, and living in the land of four seasons I am especially glad. I can’t stop taking photos of dirt and blooms and buds and leaves and worms and whatever else comes my way, because each bit is wonder and a marvel.
Tomorrow I mow the lawn.