Springing forward rapidly...it's less of a "March" than a "sprint"

Spiraea border at New Moon Gardens farm, Lithonia, GA

For most of us springtime is a busy time; the sunshine warms our blood and throws out some vitamin D to get us moving, feeling limber and hopeful.  Throngs of frothy cherry trees and elegant dogwoods write that Romance is all around.  I haven't been posting lately; I believe this early spring has whooshed over me and I haven't been able to keep up with my thoughts about it...

For me, it's not just that my work means that the pace of spring tends to knock me over with emails and meetings.  Rather, it's something about all these rapid changes: the lengthening of days, the cacophony of birds, buds unfolding into spent flowers as if filmed with a strobe light.  It rouses in me a wish to take it all in, to notice everything, and to try to keep up--perhaps this is my effort at not getting left behind from spring's promise.   Winter's long anticipation, with it's ennervated succession of days and protracted changes in the landscape--long nights, long hours feeling a bit cooped up, long musings about plans for warmer days--always leaves me ill-prepared for the arresting pace of springtime change.  I want to cry out at the forsythia as it discards its yellow robe when the temperature creeps toward 80, "Wait, I'm not ready yet!" as though I could absorb every change with singular attention and fully grasp the progression of time.

Still Nature with her springtime verve marches on indifferently.  We look around us and read the tulips dancing as human tropes: girls dressed up for their spring debut, daffodils smiling sympathetically at our own March giddiness; Spiraea bearing white wands as generous ornaments for our human celebrations.  Birdsong we hear as happy chatter instead of territorial mating cries.  So we gear up, responding to the tune of warm temperatures and garish azalea trumpets.  Yet Nature plows forward, carrying weeds and mosquitoes and hinting at the dog days of summer--reminding us that she waits for no one, human or otherwise.  Despite our half-met plans and aspirations this very indifference is a grace, placing us right-sized into the natural order.  

The poet Mary Oliver tells us of this grace in her poem The Wild Geese:

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Viburnum macrocephalum in full force.


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