February signed out with a shower of steadily falling snow, turning each crystal flake to a pearl as it landed. Her work of transition was done.
How deftly she had managed the feat she was assigned. Wake only the early risers; leave the rest deep in their dreams.
Hers was a twilight world of subtle colors punctuated by shards of ice, smoothed by blankets of drifting snow, cleansed with cold rain. She ushered hope in slowly with half-days of sunlight and warm, billowing winds. But it was enough. The eager ones were awake and others were stirring.
We stood in the midst of her shimmering feast of pearls and whispered our goodbyes.
These are the irrepressible ones. You can’t tell them a thing.
Tempt them with a little bit of lengthening light, a dash of warm rain and off they go. They don’t want to hear that snow is coming. You can yell all you want that it’s not even March yet. They couldn’t care less.
Some dizzy breeze whispered that the robins are just to the south. That cinched it.
So here they are, poking their outrageous sprouts skyward, risking it all, just for the chance to sing their golden joy as spring creeps toward them across the hours.
Someone has to go first, to brave the unknown. You can’t send just anybody. Too much rests on his reports.
No, the one who goes must have a keen eye, some experience under his belt. He needs the wisdom to see the big picture and to take account of the details as well.
The flock lingers behind, waiting for his word. A day or two will pass before they see him sailing over the horizon, before they hear his strong and joyous cry: Come!
Not being big on equal distribution, February left her heavy snows elsewhere. It wouldn’t have mattered. The ice would still thin. The buds on the treetops would continue to swell, bathing the woods with their cloud of deepening pink.
The momentary weather doesn’t matter. The grander cycles hold sway.
Events come and go. Moods change. They are all mere decoration. The inner essence remains the same and obeys the eternal laws.
The scales of the pine cones layer the forest floor like shells washed up on a beach. And just as shells become sand, these become soil, nurturing the life that gave them birth.
In the meantime, they explain the chubby, well-fed squirrels who chatter from the pine boughs above us. The cones are their corn on the cob, you see. And how they adore the tasty seeds that the little curled scales hold!
This winter mosaic beneath our boots sings that nature takes care of her own.
Something has changed. Some subtle energy is waking the pines. It rushes along their branches like whispered secrets passing from one to the other.
It shivers down their trunks and into their thick roots. The earth itself is charged with its vibration. It has no name. But it fills you with something grand when you walk here.
And if you reach out and touch the cool bark of one of these beings, your spirit soars, and you feel as if you could stand here forever.
That we are all diamonds in the rough makes us no less beautiful. We hold within us our longing for perfection, and the longing is enough.
It propels us forward; it stirs us to reach, to become more of what we sense we can be.
When you are tempted to despair because you have not yet fulfilled your potential, think how bleak life would be with no more potential to unfold.
The bud does not weep because it is not yet a rose.
The song of the Great Yes is, forever, a symphony without end.
The long wait for spring is an exercise in patience, in the willingness to let things be as they are.
It is not a season for beginners in these arts. You must know how to let go.
If you let dreams of spring overtake you, you will suffer. Your eyes will ache for color. Your skin will yearn for the warm and lingering touch of sun. You will find yourself straining to hear the living songs of frogs and birds.
Dreaming of spring will drive you mad.
Instead, you must let that all go, as if you had never known it. As if you had never walked without shoes in the morning dew. As if you had never watched a hummingbird hover or your cat sleep, stretched full out, on a patch of sun-warmed clover.
Let it go. Then you will see the hardiness of geraniums leaning into the northern light as it filters through the frosted winter window.
To the sheep, it felt like a holiday. The air was windless and mild and a fresh powdering of snow covered the ground. The farmer had opened the pasture gate and let them roam as they pleased.
They wandered for a while on the hilltop, licking the snow as if it were ice cream, watching it as it fluffed in little waves beneath their hooves. But as the morning wore on, they grew hungry for a more substantial meal.
And so they meandered to the bottom lands and there they feasted on frosted shredded wheat, and their little sheep hearts sang happiness songs.
As quickly as she brought the snow, February took it away. Now there was only sky and sleeping corn fields.
They had, of course, a beauty of their own, these subtle clouds, these curving acres of earth. The sheer starkness of it was a work of art.
Still, I couldn’t help but remember the time that Robert told me he kept beside his bed a photo of his wife on their wedding day. Now, he said, when he woke to find her disheveled and snoring beside him, swollen with child and red-nosed with a cold, he would look at the photo and smile, knowing she was that, too.