ferments like rising bread… Margaret Atwood
Look closely. Crocus blading up through last October’s leaves on the flat corner lot.
I hear the word everywhere. Tiny crinklings as remnants of snow collapse: spring. Silver piping from the scout robin: Spring. Moaning coos escaping the ring-necked doves anxious for young: SPRING. First crocus, crocus blooming, crocus across the street, the gardeners chime: spring.
I have mixed feelings about spring.
There, I’ve said it. A gardener. I have mixed feelings about spring.
I have the expected, the normal feelings. Air that is both fresh and warm, air that is scented by awakened soil, air with a blush of humdity: Breathing this kind of air kindles exuberance. This kind of air through my hair and on my cheeks stands me up taller.
The first glimpse of green, always looked-for and yet always a surprise, is like meeting a new friend, one who seems utterly familiar.
…and yet… and yet…
Like the warning chords from the sound track of Jaws, these very delights set off a cold stream of ambivalence, as well.
I’m not a gardener who pines through winter. Not anymore, anyway. I don’t pour over catalogs or wish it wouldn’t snow. And the main reason I go through photos from the summer before, is to organize them. There isn’t time to organize them in the summer. And therein lies the rub.
Summer yields so little time.
Unlike many friends working in schools, offices, and firms of many sorts where summer offers vacation days and relaxing weekends, my summers are heaped with work. Winter is spacious, cordial, a break in routine. I get to try new things, see more friends, play. In summer, while my friends are playing and enjoying their gardens, I’m working in other peoples’ gardens and barely have time for my own.
I make time for my own, of course. Such an odd phrase — making time — as if it could be whipped up out of things you find in the fridge. Really, time isn’t made, it’s borrowed, stolen, traded. Until the next thing you know, you haven’t cooked in three weeks, you’re completely out of clean clothes, you can’t remember the last time you called your mother, and you’re friends have given up. It’s 9 PM on a Saturday; you’re standing in the gloaming with a hose in your hand; you really need a shower, supper, and a glass of wine; and you look up to Heaven and say outloud, “Do I ever get to do anything but garden?” But the One Who is Usually Listening just chuckles.
(Audible sigh). Yes. I sometimes feel ambivalent about spring.
Last year, I taught myself a gesture. When I felt summer crowding me, I jabbed my elbows out from my sides with a grunt. Then, I’d have to laugh, it felt so good.
It is spring. My decision: Summer is properous and relaxing, home and garden springs of time.