“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn, a mosaic of them all.” – Stanley Horowitz
Spring comes early here in the Northwest. Our growing season, despite being so far north, is really long. The warm air that comes in off the Pacific Ocean makes our winters much more temperate than many people realize. One of my favorite things to do on a warmish day in February is to wander around the garden to see what is starting to come up. I am usually doing some winter clean up, cutting things back and letting the new growth see the sun. This past week, we had one of those days and I was able to see new life starting all around me. You just have to look for it. Some are blatant, like a bright red rhododendron bloom, and some are subtle, like the buds swelling on the red currant trees.
In the past, spring was my very favorite season. I am finding that I enjoy the hazy days of fall more and more. Spring is full of crazy activity and lush life sprouting everywhere you look – it’s like a riotous teenager wearing bright clothes; fall is more sedate and sophisticated. The colors are more reserved, with golds and reds taking over from pink, purple, and yellow. I love spring, but I relate to fall. Maybe it’s the stage of life I am in, but the slower pace appeals to me.
The part of spring that touches me most (and I realize we are not there yet, but it is beginning…) is that feeling of rebirth and renewal. I need that in my life right now as I complete the cycle that follows loss. Seeing the world become new again and feeling the potential that dormant plants emit gives me a much needed injection of hope. I watch the new growth like a mother hen, protective of my new babies and encouraging them along their path toward maturity. A cold snap could hit them hard, but I expect that they will survive.
My yard has been a work in progress for the past 17 years. I moved to this house and brought a few things from my old garden along, things I couldn’t bear to part with. I have heirloom plants – those that were given to me by friends and family. I had to bring along cuttings of the violets that once bloomed in my grandmother’s garden and the forsythia that was in my Aunt Betty’s. These are plants that connect me to my own roots and I love having them here. Most plants I have acquired or cultivated because I know they are hardy and will thrive with minimal care. I know myself well enough to know that although I love my plants, I rule by benign neglect and they have to be able to survive in spite of me. Through careful process of elimination, I have accomplished a very low maintenance garden.
My hands will be in the dirt soon, planting, rearranging and shaping things for the rest of the growing season. Dirt under my nails reminds me of my mom, my love of flowers connects me with Jan, and my dad simply enjoyed sitting outside looking at it all. I am able to let my mind wander while I work and I reminisce about springs past or times shared. I am my most content in this state. One time, while searching for some insight, I went to see a woman to have my horoscope read. She told me that whenever I felt I was lost or needed to be calm, I should go put my hands in the earth and I would feel at peace. I’ve remembered that these past 20 years and realize she was right. I am connected best in my garden to my place here on earth and taking care of my little plot gives me great joy.
So here’s to the coming spring and all the seasons as they line up to pass by. I will appreciate each one in its turn, finding my place among the plants and trees in my garden and keeping my eye on what’s coming next in the growing cycle. Aunt Betty’s forsythia is about to bloom and that means spring is on its way. To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. Let it ever be so.