How do tulips know when it is time to bloom?
What Predictions will the groundhog make?
What of rebirth and renewal?
A man with a frozen heart went out looking for signs of Spring. Now living in the suburbs, he is surprised by the people who still plant bulbs and gardens. It seems wherever you live there are people with flowerpot hearts. They love the earth between their fingers, the mixture of sweet rain and soft sunshine can keep them talking for days. They desperately order from the seed catalogues anxiously awaiting their packet arrivals. They never seem to outgrow their connection to the soil from whence they were created.
It had been a mild winter in the land where he lived. So, there wasn't the urgency to see the signs he would soon see. As he walked by the nearby lake he realizes the Canada Geese had never flown further south staying here to make their return trip a few hundred miles closer.
The snowdrop had begun blooming almost a week earlier; the crocuses were now even showing their headdresses of pale purple, bright yellow, and variations of both. Just today he noticed his fist daffodil blooming with other tighter buds unwilling to expose themselves. They feared perhaps another snow would fall hurting their delicate plumage. The mysterious witch hazel had been blooming for almost a month with their exotic blossoms of captured flames. Their exquisite earthy fragrance made them the true Springtime criers.
In the newspaper recently, it announced that the Cherry blossoms would reach their peak by mid March if warming trends continued. The man had never been to the festivities although he lived close to our Nations Capitol now. He didn't like crowds much and the tiny buds of magnificent pink always seemed to draw wanders from afar. He grew up four hours north from here and is still amazed by spring's early arrival.
Shyly he admits he even forced a few bulbs of his own and had paper whites blooming in December. There were also crocuses, miniature irises, amaryllis and his favored and fragrant hyacinth. He had not yet made any of his famous branch bouquets this year with the frozen forsythias, crab apple, and pussy willows. He watches the buds and blossoms swell but was strangely disappointed when they were in full bloom.
The man cannot think of this first stage of the year or freshest season without going back to his childhood. He has vivid memories of one place in particular, the place where the daffodils bloomed first. To get there he had to walk the mile to the little white church where he would go for the annual Easter egg hunt and the Sunrise Services seeing everyone dressed up in their finest. The church is always crowded on Easter Sunday. The boy thought it odd that people only turned out for the good news, Christ's birth and his resurrection, but wanted so little to do with the seasons in between. Although now he is much the same.
A little further up the paved road was a farm road that led to the left. It was heavily posted that trespassers would be prosecuted so he ran the first few yards to get under the cover of the faithful trees that would shelter him from all harm. The boy is aware of the chirping of the birds as they flutter about making preparations for their expected families. The boy always remembers to put out pieces of yarn and cotton because he liked to imagine himself a nest maker or at least a nest provider. Perhaps the jenny Wren, his mother's favorite, would use some of it to brighten her home. He loves how the tiny bird makes his mother's heart sing. Her face brightens with a smile whenever she hears the birds bubbling song as she hangs the clothes out to dry on the spring's gentle breeze.
He noticed a goldfinch that was becoming more recognizable as a male because he was getting the bright yellow color back into his feathers. The boy hopes his favorite springtime bird will return to one of his parents many birdfeeders. The indigo bunting is an awesome sight to behold because of their brilliant, almost iridescent blue that will always outshine that of the blue jays or eastern bluebirds.
An observation the boy has made is that bids sing loudest in the springtime. Their songs can seem overpowering. some birds sing with their whole hearts, while others sing with their whole beings making their proclamations of joy. He is reminded of the mourning dove; whose sorrowful song is strangely silent when they take flight upon their whistling wings. While some birds have beautiful songs, the boy believes that others are no so lovely. In fact, he thinks the blackbirds, the crows, and the starlings, are the troublemakers of the bird kingdom with their robust calls and squeaky cackling.
Thinking so much of his feathered friends the boy quickly finds himself in the "Lowlands" with their open fields and decaying outbuildings. Not taking the time to explore these temptations he travels on to he is at the river's edge.
Finding a place, he believes will grant him safe passage he removes his socks and shoes. Praying the water is shallow and calm enough to pass through without needing to remove his pants also. Rolling up his pant legs he carefully places his discarded coverings over his head and steps into the cold waters. With each successful step the boy finds himself closer to the place of intrigue.
The locals call this place Toushay's presumably because there was a native American man who lived there and owned this property. All the boy knew was at this time each year the place was abandoned, and he could look around without fear of being discovered. Although if truth be told he always felt like someone was watching him as he looked through the locked windows of the house and the less secured barns. This was especially true today, as a thick fog had settled in making everything seem like a spirit of itself. The white pigeons that flew from the barn rafters would be the first to disappear into the lowered sky with the gray and tan ones taking a little longer.
The boy came here because the boy knew the steep banks surrounding the property would be bountiful with the harvest of bright daffodils that his mother loved so. He was always assured he could find an old newspaper to wrap them in like they did in the fancy flower shops he noticed in the nearby towns. The boy also liked to include brown grasses as dead seed heads with his bouquet because they made the bright yellow seem even brighter and it was very complimentary to the aging newsprint.
With his new-found treasure safely secured in the brown wrapping paper the boy is ready to make his way home. he quickly gets started as he now a few miles far from home. It is his turn to feed the chickens and gather the eggs. There is an old hen that has taken to roosting, so he will need to be extra careful in her presence. Last Spring, she hatched out eleven yellow, brown and black bundles of joy.
He has other reasons to be careful as there was a mean rooster who guarded the hen house. The boy had been chased around the side yard many times with the flapping and clucking of this crazy conquistador.
Imagining the trail through the woods as it was when Indians walked upon them, the boy pulls a tree branch behind him pretending to cover up his trail avoiding capture. All the mosses almost glow with their intense greenery. It is too early for the mysterious India Pipes to appear with their milky translucent stems and solitary nodding flower. Soon the forest floor will be carpeted with the dainty purple violets, the strange jack-in-the-pulpits, the brown-mottled tiger lilies, the elusive pink lady slippers, the comical Dutchman breeches, the attractive dainty white and pink striped spring beauties, called "piss in the beds" by he normally regal mother. There will be odd red and white trilliums, named "Nose Bleeds" by his inquisitive mother. Spring is truly the time when the world wakes up with an ever-changing landscape.
Clearing the woods, the boy is now on a dirt road, that will take him by the sisters who make their own salty creamy butter the old-fashioned way. maybe he will stop by and visit as they usually have buttermilk sugar cookies and fudge too, an always welcome treat. He also loves to stare at the collage they made by cutting fruit from the seed catalogues then pasting them into a permanent fruit still life framed by a magnificent wooden frame, none finer hung is the art museums in the city.
Passing by his chance for a sweet treat he hurries on ass he is still almost a mile from home. The road now paved goes past two farms and one of the local favorite swimming holes. At the top of the next hill the boy turns left onto a gravel road that will take him by the ancient cemetery that has been recently restored. The boy like it better when it was overgrown, although it made it more difficult for him to take this shortcut to his friend’s house because it seemed scarier then.
Reaching the main road, the boy has only one more bridge to cross then his neighbors’ farmhouse. He hopes the dogs will not notice him so that he doesn't have to run the rest the way home. Passing by undetected he sets off to finishing his chores. He wonders how his mom will make the eggs today. She is famous for her sunny side up eggs, but we just call them dip eggs. He loves using the old one-sided toaster that makes it necessary to flip it to complete the process.
So, the man with a frozen heart began to feel the melting of his spirit that is found in the memories of a forgotten childhood and the warmth of a bright sunny day. He feels restored and ready to go on. Perhaps today he will paint a picture of a bright red breasted robin to remind him that not all is lost and there is much to be celebrated. Spring is the season of renewed hope and eternal wonderment.