The weather has been crazy around here: two weeks ago, a tornado that flattened a lot in a town close by. Then, days that started in the low twenties and today, a high of 78 and tomorrow it goes up to 81. I am not the least bit fooled, at least not this season. The climate is changing and within my life time, it is possible our world will be so turned upside down that everything we knew about the seasons will be unrecognizable but we are not there yet. That’s why, on February 6th, 2019, I am not fooled; we are yet in that time when winter is still winter.
For now, spring is the smell of wild garlic, sharp and pungent. It announces itself as I walk out the front yard, to put things in our trash bin close to the road. It’s there when I stand out on the deck in the back of our house, waiting for Tux to do her business, alert because when I got up this morning, the coyotes were howling their laments too close by for comfort. Some evenings, I lean down and clip a handful of delicate stalks poking out through the browned grass of winter and go in to add them, chopped, to my baked potato, a simple meal turned into a feast of brightness.
At first, spring does not smell sweet and subtle; spring smells loamy and penetrating and persistent. Maybe that’s because before it can be sweet or gentle or kind, it has to be strong and persistent. I didn’t know that spring takes so much effort. Pushing through the dark earth towards the light can only happen bit by bit, with pauses because the cold is so cold and more has to be asked of the earth for a seed to keep growing. What I most remember about my first spring here is the day when I looked around and all manner of flowers were blooming and the grass had stopped being lifelessly brown, and the trees had the green glow of a million tiny new leaves that had finally broken free, into the sunshine.
This time around, I want to urge the buds and the shoots not to quit, to resist the urge to curl up in a ball and keep the dreary cold at bay. I appreciate the guidance wild garlic gives me, the places that smell invites to go look for that may need my quiet non-cheerleader cheers. I follow my nose and then keep going a bit more, bump into our cherry tree that was stripped bare months ago. It might not look like much, almost like just another part of winter, but look again. The bumps and swells along stems: they are decidedly not about winter.
I may think I can urge the growth to happen, the winter to part in two so more can come rushing in, but that’s nothing but foolishness on my part. I have to wait. Before it can be anything else, spring is a promise.