It is somehow hard to believe the above, when the forecast predicts a snowstorm and a high temperature of 32 degrees. I was thinking about it though, as I listened to strangers discuss the weather...it is the one thing that unites us all, the one thing we all experience and can't get away from, or do anything about, short of get on a plane and fly away to a warmer climate. So in some ways, it is the great equalizer, rich or poor or somewhere in between, we all have to deal with the climate, we can't change it, we complain about it, it gives us something to talk about with people we will never know.
There is a certain innate beauty in the remnants of plants from last autumn against the stark spring landscape. I purposely don't tidy the garden in the fall so that birds can forage for food in winter, and to give the garden some form during the long winter months. As soon as I do clean up the debris the garden almost looks too orderly and dull for awhile, waiting for summer to spur on its sprawling growth. Every season in the garden is beautiful to me, even the the desiccated old growth as we wait for spring.
" There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens,
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot...He has made everything beautiful in its time."
Spring is approaching tentatively this year. Each day there is a little less of the mountainous snow pile that was in our front yard for months. But I will treasure each incremental sign of this new season. I am willing to keep my winter coat on, if the air even smells like spring it gives me hope. Hope for things green and growing after the toll of this harsh winter. Removing the plants that didn't make it, with regret. This is all part of life, reassessing, taking account of what remains, moving on with hope for better days.
Trying to convince others to cherish the same things we do isn't always an easy thing to do. I would spend the entire day outside in the summertime, my family...not so much. The best way to coax them out is to share the love of nature by sheer persistence. I pushed my children as long as I could in a stroller so that I could continue taking my long walks every day. When we go to our cottage it is a little easier to convince them to go for hikes in the amazing wooded areas surrounding the lake. There is just nothing to compare to being outdoors on a beautiful day especially in the spring when everything is coming back to life.
The artist perfectly captured the look on the character's face in this illustration to show how he is feeling..."I want to so much to change, but I don't know how." I have been in this place many times. Sometimes its a just a matter of getting up off the comfy chair and into life. Many times we need someone to spark that change by giving us new ideas and directions as incentive. We may think it is never too late to change and grow, but I have seen that sometimes we grow too old and are hampered physically in order to do so. So...seize the day, gather the roses while you may, whatever adage gets you motivated and live while you still can.
"It has never struck me as harmful
to make a conscious effort to elevate one's thoughts, in the hope that by doing
so one's writing will get off the ground, even if only for a few seconds (like
Orville Wright) and to a low altitude. I am an egoist, inclined to inject
myself into almost everything I write. This usually calls for good taste, if
one is to stay alive. I'm not against good taste in writing, however unpopular
it may be today." E. B. White.
If E. B. thought
good taste was gone when he was writing, how much more so is that a fact today.
I would rather reflect on the beauty of life around me, than to try to be
witty and use expletives sprinkled throughout my writing as so many authors and
bloggers do today. It seems shock value is more popular that fine tuning
our words. So I will continue to go back in time to find mentors for my
writing... and I don't think I will have any regrets.
When I was young I loved animals and dreamed of having a kitten of my own. We would visit my uncle's farm, and go up in the barn to find the kittens and cuddle them all day, even if they had gunk in the corner of their eyes and a sickly look.
I would pick up caterpillars and examine them without fear. Now I skitter away from any living thing no matter what it is. I don't know what happened to that fearless, curious little girl.
When James Herriot's novels about being a veterinarian in Yorkshire were published I loved reading them and later watching the televised version so much that my sons names come from those novels filled with loving anecdotes about people and their pets and animals.
My son's girlfriend has been a good influence on our family in that way. Her obvious love for animals
shames me for the way I shrink away. We need people like her in our lives to remind us how loving a pet and being loved by one can enrich our lives.
It is such a joy to find a beautiful garden and then find friends who appreciate it as much as you do. Northwinds Perennial Farm took my breath away, as does Eder Nursery. They both have that tumbledown look, with twists and turns that hold surprises around every corner. I remember telling someone that I almost wept because the gardens were so beautiful and they gave me an odd look of that being incomprehensible. One has to be careful who one shares their passions with, not everyone is moved by the same things. But when you do find a kindred spirit, treasure their company always!
I had my own secret garden once. It was quite an effort to clear the detritus of many years of neglect. The entire time my children were growing up I tweaked the garden as they played as a way of watching what they were doing without them realizing it. What joy that garden gave us all as they played in and around the plants and the tumble down stones and created stinky brews out of decaying plants and water. I have a new garden now which is neat and tidy, landscaped to perfection to fit the standards of the subdivision. But I will always have a special place in my heart for my tumble down out of control secret garden of the past.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. I've been told that in these tumultuous times I should be confronting all the issues and be more aware of all the inherent dangers in the world. I realize that some people love to debate and even to switch sides in the middle of argument, but that has never been me. Arguing makes me uncomfortable and anxious. If I absorb all of the current events and dwell on them it will break me. I know this for a fact. I think there are people in this world who can be aware of everything that is going on, put it in the hands of the Lord, deal with the things at hand, and choose to think about praiseworthy things instead. That is the only way I can survive.
One spring day a few years ago, I went for a walk on a rural bike path and it was like awakening from a long sleep. Life had been tumultuous and uncertain. Walking in nature just coming out of hibernation was the best thing I could have done for myself to rejuvenate my spirits. It was as if I was seeing the natural world for the first time. That is a good thing about winter, even though it has a beauty of its own, it makes us appreciate the rebirth of everything so much more than if it was around us all the time. Perhaps that is why we live in Wisconsin, to experience that awakening every spring each year.
We have yet to see the first robin this year, I have a feeling he will be late if he is smart. But when he does come, what a welcome sight he will be. This week it will warm up just enough so the sap begins to rise in the sugar maples. So...I guess for March, that is just about where it should be.
The character of Dickon in The Secret Garden is one of my favorites in all of Children's Literature. I love how he is intuitive about nature, how he loves animals, but especially how he draws Mary out of her crankiness with his kind and gentle ways.
I have a few students this year who passionately love animals and want to work with them when they are older. They are a good influence on me, since I basically fear anything that moves that isn't human. (It is a family trait from my mother's side.) It has taught me that we can influence the people around us to take a second look at the things they may not love (or fear) and change their outlook by example. That is a wonderful contribution to make to the world.
I have felt more like sickly Colin in The Secret Garden than lively Mary Lennox lately. A week ago Thursday a student came back to school with a very contagious germ that spread through my class like wildfire. We had no school on Friday, but by Monday almost everyone had succumbed to coughing, sneezing, and blowing their noses. I had to buy a small case of kleenex just to survive. I think I bonded with some of the quieter students in our misery together. What does that say for the climate of my classroom?
So... this weekend I have to squeeze in some quiet recovery time amongst house cleaning and preparing refreshments for an open house at school tomorrow. I will be sure to let someone else serve the cake and punch to our guests and stay far away from that table.
Hopefully I will recover to take a few steps outside into some spring weather next week and grow strong again in the warm March sunshine.
It is serendipitous to make friends wherever you might find them, or however unlikely that person might be. Just to have someone to talk to once in awhile, who will speak the truth, even if it stings a little. We can grow so much from these relationships however brief or long they endure. What has never worked for me were forced friendships. If it doesn't naturally fall into place, its just not going to work for me no matter how hard we try. I thank the Lord for the sensible, no nonsense people He has placed in my life here and there. I have needed them so much and been so thankful for them.
Yesterday as I took clean clothes out of the dryer I caught a whiff of spring air. I don't know the source of the scent, since there is a foot or more of snow on the ground and we are still held fast in winter's grip. But I will take the scent from whatever door it is emitting from!
Oh, to see the lush green of this illustration in real life again! It has been so long. Hopefully when spring does come it will be a rapid thaw and the world will transform before our eyes. By Thursday of this week the temperatures are supposed to rise and on Friday we have a field trip to learn about maple sugar making. I'm sure no sap will be rising, but it is the thought that counts.
Everyone's spirits have been sagging because of this long winter, but we've had long winters before. Somehow, it hasn't been the weather that has brought me down, rather what is happening indoors. It was good to have a respite on Friday to go to conference, even though the information wasn't new and there were too many business meetings.
I have new hope and strength to go on, at least for tomorrow...
With the winter we have had this year, I feel as cranky as Mary Lennox at the beginning of The Secret Garden before she learns to play outside and get some fresh air. So hopefully by the end of March, we will be unlocking some secrets in the garden. I'm fearful of what I might find, have my perennials survived?
It is such a beautiful time when the earth begins to awaken again. I hope to have time to acknowledge springtime for the miracle it truly is when everything begins to emerge from hibernation. Maybe I'll even befriend a robin like Mary did...