Friday, April 24, 2009

A Wink Each Spring

Petite purple crocuses erupted overnight, a surprise every year. One day they’re covered in snow and the next thing I know I spot them out of the corner of my eye, beneath the kitchen window. A diminutive grouping, they don’t seem to care they’re not in the company of others. I wish I could save the pocket-sized crocus: they come and go so quickly, I’m afraid I haven’t cherished their moment of surprise, they, just a wink each spring. ---Epigraph from At Home in the Elk River Valley

Pete headed out in the six-wheeler to fence the far side of our main pasture. I headed for my desk and worked on the development of my new website, various appointments, and emails. Come late morning, I saw the six-wheeler parked in the oak brush across the pasture and felt guilty that I was not in the middle of the outside spring chores.

So, I headed out into the gardens where I knew I would find the remains of last fall covering the beds in a morbid mulch-like covering. With my tine rake I lightly raked over the bed by the front door and drew back the layered and lifeless cottonwood and aspen leaves no longer brilliant but in deep browns and tints of gray. I plied my rake through the leftovers of my favorite variegated giant reed grass and tenderly around the white, yellow, and purple crocus.

Once cleared, the petite and brave crocus took a stronger stand on center stage. The daffodils in bud and tulips not far behind happily stirred memories of how all the early flowering bulbs will look in their dazzling yellows, oranges, and reds in just a matter of days. The woodswort peeked out from ground level and the snow in summer, long and straggly, fluffed up and looked as though it had just gotten out of bed.

Tidying up in this way: pulling back the dark covering, exposing the dark mulch and earth beneath, and rediscovering the perennial plants in each garden was like drawing in a deep, cleansing breath. Clearing away the old growth, the lifeless remains of another time in order to make way for a new order had within it restorative powers: a physical and emotional awakening to the energy of a new season.

As the wind of the afternoon brings in another spring storm capable of both rain and snow, I feel as though moments like these are like the eruption of the crocus, “just a wink each spring.” But I know there will be other similiar moments in the days ahead in which I'm reminded of the renewal felt in the simplest of spring’s chores.

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