(This blog post might be a bit wordy and unwieldy. My thoughts tend to run about in circles like misbehaving children. Please bear with me. I’ll do my best to reel them in.)
In the South, Spring tends to arrive just a little bit earlier than normal. This is true especially in the southeastern-most Southeastern United States.
Here, just a few short hours from the Atlantic coastline, is where the ancient sea bed has become the soil we walk upon.
Yes, there is sandy soil in this part of the inland South. The sand makes me wonder about what must’ve occurred in the distant past to pull the ocean away from this part of the continent. What aquatic life lived in the ocean that ebbed and flowed above our backyard? If we were to dig deep into the soil outside, what would we find? Fossils, perhaps? Or just more of the big rocks that litter the ground underneath the sand?
This very sand and the outdoors itself are what inspired me to write this blog post.
Last week, we had a few snow flurries here in my city. Not much. Just enough. It was as if the weather gods had to tap us on the shoulder and whisper in our ears to remind us that yes…it’s still wintertime.
“That brief warm spell we gave you?” they said, giggling at us in our shorts and t-shirts. “That was just a little teaser. Trust us, you’re still knee-deep in winter.”
The sky grew full of heavy gray clouds and the air felt icy. I took the above photo, hoping to capture at least one of the little snowflakes…but to no avail. What resulted was an image that perfectly describes my feeling as we enter the waning weeks of winter.
It’s the feeling of expectation, of yearning. The need for warmth and light and growth.
Dean and I spend vast amounts of time out on our decks when the weather is welcoming. Spring turns to summer turns to fall, and in the evenings and weekends we spend countless hours outside. Talking, sipping wine, listening to music, reading, crafting…there are endless numbers of ways that we enjoy the fresh air and camaraderie.
There is something about spending time outdoors in the longer, warmer days that makes me long for the coming spring. It can’t get here soon enough.
The seemingly empty plant pots scattered across the deck are eager, too.
I like to imagine the little bulbs in the earth around our house and in the backyard beginning to awaken after their slumber, anxious to stretch their spindly green arms out toward the sun.
The thought of watching our perennials emerge after a long winter’s sleep excites me. The frst shoots of flowers…the first buds on our azaleas…the tiny yellow blossoms on our jessamine vine. These things herald the coming spring and the summer to follow, the return of the high and hot sun, the turning of the earth toward that life-giving source of light.
Spring brings everything together in a triumphant celebration of color, scent, and texture.
Dogwood trees, daffodils, rosebushes. Herb gardens freshly planted with basil, thyme, mint. The yellow pine pollen that fills the air from March to April and sometimes a bit beyond. Everything awakens with such joy that you can’t help but fall into the happiness.
Which brings me back to the present.
Dean and I have spent the dark, cold winter evenings with our noses in books. Lots of books. We’ve been reading books and listening to music and making the most of the dark time. We have been learning songs – Dean on guitar and me on the bass – creating a music project we’ve always dreamed of doing, and are finally doing. I’ve been working with yarn and fabric, beads and wire, and toying with the idea of writing a novel.
We have been keeping busy, but being indoors most of the time is wearing on us both.
On a recent outing at dusk, we discovered that evening is beginning to come later and later. Mornings bring the sun and its slow steady climb toward the northern sky. Day by day it moves a bit higher on the horizon, it’s orangey-warm light filling the earth with promise. Birds chirp at daybreak. The air is crisp. There is a general feeling that the planet is waking up.
And this stimulates my soul.
So while winter continues trudging along toward its end at the equinox, we will continue reading our books, listening to our music, playing our instruments, and making art. Then, when the planet shakes off the dark and cold days in March, we will emerge from our cocoons as human butterflies awakened by the light and love of spring with the promise of growth and all good things.
May this ending-of-winter spur your imagination, too.