Friday, March 14, 2014

Signs of Spring

I ordered my first batch of seeds for the vegetable garden this week, reminding myself that even as March snowfall blankets the ground in a clean layer of white, spring is – eventually – coming. March is notoriously fickle around here, changing from cold and snowy to warm and sunshiny, then back again. All of spring, really, is like that; last year a Memorial Day snowstorm had my flip-flop-wearing kids scrambling to find warm coats and mittens as they ran outside to build a snowman.

This year's buds, last year's leaves, and new snow.
Last week, as the season’s persistent subzero temperatures met us each morning, even my winter-loving children had had enough. “I just want it to be spring,” moaned my daughter, as her siblings agreed. When I reminded my skiing-sledding-shoveling-snow-angel-making kids that they loved winter, my son replied, “But, Mama, I like winter better when it snows.”

Lucky kid got his wish, waking up to a thin layer of snow Tuesday morning, followed by a major storm midweek. He rushed through breakfast and headed outside to shovel before going to school. As I approach the deadline for submitting this column, it’s snowing hard, with a foot or more predicted. That translates to three happy little skiers and a happy ski mom.

Of course, by mid-March, many folks are winter weary and ready for spring. Often, these are the same folks who don’t like winter in any month, and I find their choice of living in New England odd. But I admit there are days, as March stretches toward April, when I, too, long for warmer days and fewer layers of clothing.

This yearning happens to me at the waning of each season. Near the end of summer, I crave the crisp coolness and color of fall. As that color fades to stark brown and grey, I wish for the sparkle of winter’s snow and ice to brighten the landscape – and my psyche. After months of cold and winter white, I happily anticipate the return of color to the landscape.

The animals are ready for spring after a long winter of cold, too. In our field, the deer have returned lately to the old apple orchard, traversing our ski- and snowshoe-packed tracks and scratching through the crust to reach the cold, hard apples that fell last fall. More birds are arriving at the feeder, which during the coldest months is frequented mainly by chickadees and a pair of blue jays. I’m hesitant to refill the feeder now, as I’m sure the bears, too, will emerge from their winter hideouts soon.

Spring here can be a season of strange juxtaposition. Snowbanks piled high from a March storm stand adjacent to mushy mud puddles in the driveway. Leaf buds swell on the tips of tree branches even as icicles drip from the eaves of the house. Snow boots and winter hats mingle with mud boots and ball caps in the front hall. My children these days are likely to ski in the morning, then come home and haul their bicycles out of the garage in the afternoon.

I like to think of these seasonal contrasts as holding the potential for the best of both worlds. Ski in the morning, bike in the afternoon. Roll up sleeves and uncover faces to soak in the first warm sunlight of the year, then tuck into a favorite chair by the fire as the warmth of afternoon fades to the chill of evening. Watch the snow fall, then melt, then fall some more, as we plant the first seeds of spring into pots by the window.

No matter what the weather is outside, these little seeds will sprout and grow, reminding us that spring is – eventually – coming. In the meantime, we’re heading out to play in the snow.

Original content by Meghan McCarthy McPhaul,posted to her Blog: Writings From a Full Life. This essay also appears as Meghan's Close to Home column in the March 14, 2014 edition of the Littleton Record.

No comments:

Post a Comment