Zooming in

When is spring going to come? It’s a question I’ve heard repeatedly in recent weeks.

Last Monday, as I drove in the dark to pick my daughter up from work, rain pounding my windshield, I had a moment of disorientation. It felt like a December night, and I was suddenly unmoored from calendar time. Was it still winter? No, I reminded myself, putting down an anchor: It’s April. It’s spring.

The next day, as I left the house wearing my heavy coat (still, in April) as protection from the continuing cold, grumbling to myself about spring’s late arrival this year, something in the yard caught my attention. I stood and looked at our garden, really seeing it for the first time in what felt like weeks. I could see that the grass is growing again, the trees are budding, and color has returned to the landscape.

Oh, it’s really not winter anymore, I thought. These cold, wet days so late in the year are spring. This is what spring is.

The next day, while I was visiting a friend up on the mountain, walking along a road in a place I once lived, snow fell. Spring snow.

A mountain road lined with evergreens and bare deciduous trees, with light snow falling.

This week I have been thinking about seasons, about climate, about change, about aging, about what it means to be a woman in our culture. About seeing how things really are, as opposed to how we think they should be. About loss and grief and hope. And I wrote this:

Like a woman scorned

Spring does not care 
if last night felt like December, 
if you had to turn 
the windshield wipers on high 
and still could not see 
the line separating your lane 
from another’s.

This is who she is now.

She is here, here in the cold 
water dripping from fisted cherry
blossom buds; in the green,
green clover choking 
out even greener grass; 
in the fern fronds curled
like snakes under a willow
that’s about to weep 
into bursting leaves. 

Her timetable is indifferent to yours. 

She will not blow
a warm breath across the back
of your neck because
you are so tired of the wrong
kind of shivers. 

If you cannot see
her, cannot love her, go
inside and do
what you do: stoke
your fires, turn up the heat.

The loss is ours.

I also took some photos:

A field of green clover taking over green grass

Close-up of cherry blossoms buds.

Close-up of curled fern fronds.

I find I often have to zoom in closely in order to see a bigger picture. I’d love to know what you’ve been seeing this week.

19 thoughts on “Zooming in

  1. Ally Bean says:

    I’ve been seeing beautiful spring colors and insincere human beings. It’s been an odd contrast in how wonderful things can be and how devious people can be. I don’t know what to make of it, but there you go. You asked.

    • Rita says:

      In general, I prefer a field of flora to a crowd of humans, though humans have their beautiful moments, too. I’m sorry your view has included devious ones.

  2. Kate says:

    I see snow. 7-10 inches blowing around out there today/tonight/into tomorrow. Less than a week ago it was 90 degrees and the wind felt suffocating. She is literally blowing hot and cold not caring two figs about what we all think. I wish I could learn that lesson.

    • Rita says:

      Oof! That’s a big swing. You must have to have ALL the clothes in your closet right now. Spring as a menopausal woman. I like it. And for whatever it’s worth, I think you are well on your way. (To that attitude, not menopause. I mean, I have no idea where you are vis a vis menopause.)

      • Kate says:

        We do have all the clothes. Very weird to go from sweaters to summer dresses to sweaters again. But that’s spring here.

        I don’t know how close I am (to that attitude or menopause) but I’m seeing glimpses.

        Funny story – I’m a huge fan of Florence and the Machine and the song Free is a favorite. I sent it to a friend a few weeks ago with the comment “this song hits different when you’re in the middle of a hot flash” and we’ve decided it’s basically our perimenopausal anthem.

        • Rita says:

          I kinda love that. The song, and the song as anthem.

          Glimpses are good. They are enough. I’m ready to embrace my inner spring (even though, I guess, I’m technically nearing the end of the autumn of my life).

          I am so ready to wear my spring clothes. I have a pretty minimal closet, and I’m just tired of wearing the same things for so long.

        • Marian says:

          I love Florence and the Machine too, but I hadn’t yet heard the song Free. Hoo boy, can I ever relate to those lyrics—both with and without the menopause angle! Speaking of menopause, I revamped my wardrobe a few years ago, coincidentally just as I was entering peri-menopause. I found relief in loose cotton sleeveless shirts, so much so that they’re what I wear all year—on their own in the summer, and under a wool cardigan in winter.

          • Rita says:

            Still trying to figure out how to dress my changed (and seemingly ever-changing) body. I am a fan of the loose shirt, too.

          • Kate says:

            Adding loose sleeveless cotton to my wardrobe list. Your summer/winter wardrobe sounds up my alley, Marian.

            In terms of your comment below, I’m sorry to hear about all you’ve been seeing. That’s a lot in week.

            You weren’t alone in thinking how weird that week was (even if the news made it seem that way). I know some who don’t want to say out loud how unsettling it was to have that kind of heat in April, but I certainly felt that way and think others did too!

            And I’m sorry about your friend. Superficial friendships have their place, but it is disappointing when you want/need/hope for something more.

            Most of all, I was happy to see that as different as it was to be alone in your house again that you found yourself thinking about how you still like your husband.

            Sending love, Marian.


  3. Marian says:

    Like Kate (we’re not too far from each other geographically) we’ve just had a week of summer weather. I listened to a news reporter interviewing people on the street, and every single person said what a wonderful thing it was—there wasn’t one mention of concern over this weather weirding, and no one shared any thoughts along the lines of “if this is spring, we’d better hope summer won’t bring heatwave-hell”—so I suppose I’m seeing what an outlier I am. I’m also seeing the superficiality of a lifelong friendship, which if I’m honest with myself, I’ve suspected for a long time, and yet it’s still making me sad. And, this past week I’ve also seen what it will be like when our youngest (now 18) will head to university in the fall. He’s been on a school trip, and my husband and I realized this is the first time since having our daughter 26 years ago that we’ve been alone (overnight) in our house.

    • Rita says:

      That’s a lot. I’ve been consoling myself with hopes that all the rain (and mountain snow) we’ve been having will mean an easier wildfire season later this year. And I’ve been reminding myself that over the course of my life, spring has been many different things. Some years milder/warmer, but some years more like this one. But, like you, I am always seeing the natural world through the lens of climate change. I’m sorry about the friendship, and I’m curious about how it was for you to be alone again. I have seen such a range of responses to that experience among people I know; I think the only thing I know for sure is that it is different for everyone. I hope it will be freeing in a good way for you. (That Florence and the Machine song could have implications for parenting, too.)

      • Marian says:

        Thanks, Rita—it has been a lot around here lately, with the three things I mentioned being only those things I’ve seen *this* week. Quite honestly, it felt strange to be that alone with my husband, but at the same time I was relieved when it hit me out of the blue that I still like him—and to feel as though he still liked me.

        I hope too that the snow and rain that the west coast has experienced will at least lessen wildfires and drought. Fingers crossed, eh?

        • Rita says:

          Yes, that is a lot. I am so happy to hear that you and your husband still like each other (not everyone does!), and hope that you’ll find both comfort and delight in each other as you make that transition. There are definitely losses, but also gains. Like so much of life, eh?

          Fingers crossed, for many things. 🙂

  4. TD says:

    Spring. This past week the hummingbirds arrived for the seasonal migration here. The second spring thing this past week is that neighbors are mingling with each other in the front yards. And the third is that I’m seeing the broken bird eggs cracked on the grounds which means spring chicks in the nests above. These may not be important considering all that is happening on our plant. They are observations of spring activity!

    I’m sorry Marian that you are experiencing a deeper understanding of a lifelong friendship. This sort of relationship thing leaves me feeling sad too. Even though I know it’s common, ships that fall here break my heart.

    I like your poem, Rita. When I read it I felt like I was sitting in the passenger seat right next to you.

    • Rita says:

      Hi TD,
      It’s nice to hear from you, and to “see” those signs of spring where you are. I did see a hummingbird here not long ago, and it was amazing to me. It was odd to see one with it so cold here. And, like you, I am seeing folks on the street outside more. We have three young brothers growing up two doors down, and I love it when the warmer weather comes and they play outside. That hasn’t happened much yet, but there have been a few mild afternoons that they’ve done that.

      Thank you for the nice words about the poem. 🙂

  5. Kari says:

    We had several 80-degree days last week, and I was sick of it by the fourth day. I wished for rain, 45-degree days, and even snow. I used to hate that kind of weather. I would be eager for summer to arrive. Now I understand why spring is such an important step towards summer.

    Also, my introverted self was unprepared to be active so early. I need spring to buffer myself in preparation for summer. 🙂

    Your poem is beautiful. It reminds me of all the connections between the seasons, Mother Nature, and women. How we are slowly dying as a result of not appreciating them.

    • Rita says:

      Well, after literally weeks of cold rain (really kinda tired of high temps in the 50s), we’re supposed to be in the 80s by the end of next week. AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH. I just want some warmth (not heat), where I can be comfortable without wearing a coat or baring parts of my body I’d rather not bare. Yes, spring is an important step towards summer. I (like most of the neurodivergent) like a slow transition for just about any change.

      My introverted self sees your introverted self.

      And thank you for seeing my poem. Don’t we all just want to be seen?

  6. Debs Carey says:

    Spring is doing its usual swinging back & forward over here in the UK, although we’re only moving between sunshine, showers and hail. The bluebells are out, transforming woodlands into places with a gorgeous carpet which pulls your eyes in, even as you’re driving past down winding roads.

    Indoors I swing between turning on the heating and having a blanket on my lap in the evening, and flinging the windows open to let in some fresh spring air. My windows were cleaned yesterday, so of course it’s pouring with rain today.

    My mood is good, reasonably buoyant in fact, but I’m coming off a couple of weeks of wintering which I allowed myself to indulge in. If you’ve not read Katherine May’s “Wintering” about the practice she followed to recover from workplace stress and burnout, I’d recommend it. It’s a gentle read, although I’ll always duck the cold water swimming.

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