Ah, Spring . . . that expectant time of year when everything comes to life – except when it doesn’t. I find myself living in Minnesota this spring, and winter somewhat overstayed her welcome, bleeding into that time earmarked for new life. And, it seems that Spring is melting into what Minnesotans call Summer. (If you are from the South, it’s not what you are thinking.)
Coming from Louisiana, I’ve really only met Spring in passing. She is more the fodder of poets and fantasy than reality in my own experience. The South has two seasons – hot and hotter. If you are lucky, you’ll find a piece of the South that experiences two extreme seasons – Winter and Summer. Both of which have the uncanny ability to show up the same calendar day.
Despite Spring’s marvelous PR campaign with baby bunnies and little lambs, Spring has lived up. In fact, we could skip May all together and most years that wouldn’t bother me too terribly much. May holds an awful lot of pain.On May 2, 2018, we marked seventeen years since the passing of my Daddy. On May 11th, my brother, Jay, will have been gone for twenty-one years. He died on Mother’s Day. My earliest significant introduction to death was on a Thursday – May 18, 1989 – when my Mamaw had a heart attack. Nearly thirty years ago. It happened to be my step-brother’s, James’, 13thbirthday. Had he not been shot down by a coward on a hot, fall afternoon in 1996, he’d have turned 42 this month.
Then came Spring 2017.
May, step back into the calendar. One day in March has redeemed you.
Spring, you are still hard to handle. With your inconsistent appearances, perhaps, you should quietly slip away. Let Winter and Summer handle things.
Anyway, the extremes are more comfortable. Winter with its freezing temps and penetrating winds. Summer with its stewy, slop that southerners call “air.” Both with their unpredictable tempers. The late-summer stench of flooded artifacts pounding on the lungs feels more natural than the soft tap of Spring’s gentle breeze. The crunch of winter’s dead ground doesn’t give way like the soft grasses of Spring. In the chaos of the extremes, there is a pseudo-existence that looks a lot like living.
Ah, the rub. Spring just won’t let us be. She just can’t stay away completely. Ever pricking at our souls. Daring us to live again.
Living doesn’t seem possible under grief’s shadow. Let me take refuge under a blanket of snow. Living doesn’t seem fair without you here. Just let me melt in the humidity.
Yet, Spring’s promise of new life is faint above the din of blizzards and hurricanes.
No, I won’t have it. Spring is too fastidious with her manicured flower beds. Spring is too demanding – gardens, color-coordinated and carefully placed; the mulch for quashing weeds; and the constant watering required to quench the thirst for life. Spring’s promise doesn’t feel real. It just seems too good to be true. Life is full of weeds and rarely stops to coordinate colors.
I’ll make you a deal, Spring. You can come back, but you have to keep it real. No sculptured gardens. You dare us to bare our souls. You bare yours. Let us live among meadows of wildflowers where the landscape is honest. Where weeds and blooms coexist.
Know coming in – the meadows we have for you come overgrown with the coarse leaves and prickly thistles of despair. They may not look like much, but these fields have become comfortable. The rough underbrush serves to remind us, in only momentarily, that we are alive. Yet, those scrapes come with the cruel realization that we are not really living. We won’t pull all the weeds. We would, if we could. But we can’t, and we won’t. But if you bite on the bargain, we will pull enough weeds to make room for growth.
So here are the terms for your return. Spring, you will have to yield the seeds of “sense” – empathy, humility, optimism, and humor. Fill the meadows with the frilly petals of empathy. The heartaches and hurts have left the soil fertile for compassion. The ground broken by sorrow is softened for a sense of humility. The roots have yet to take hold, and the tendrils are frail. Sprinkle among the gaps as sense of optimism. Let it be hearty. Like a trellis, let the tender shoots of empathy and humility wrap themselves around a sense of hope.
Spring, if your promise of life – of living – is true, then you will bring back a sense of humor. Winter’s bite and Summer’s sear are expert assassins to one’s sense of humor. Yet, life is not living without it. If you promise life, then it must be full. Amongst the weeds, let a sense of humor be the hue that saturates the soul. Let it proliferate the meadows the way a child’s laugh colors everything it touches.
Spring, if you can manage all of this, we’ll lend you our tears. Each one clenches a little piece of life drained from us. Take these colorless droplets and soften the ground. Recycle our tears, watering new life back into meadows of wildflowers.
It’s a tall order, Spring. However, if you are up for the challenge, then you may return to your rightful place on the calendar. Truth is we need you (and your buddy, Fall). We need the break. The extremes have been wreaking havoc on the land. Yet, this weary land is ripe for your promises.