Over the edge of the world, the white lion crouches, ready to bring in March with its roar. But we are not afraid. We have watched its kind rage through these woods before. Its might no longer impresses us.
And on this last day of February, we see the earth bathed in the warm light of the sun and the trees drinking it in. And we know that before March is done, this light will have transformed the lion into the lamb.
All throughout the winter, the stem of dried hydrangea blossoms sat in its small blue vase on the corner of the window sill. It was a token that she had brought in last fall as a reminder of the year’s flowered days.
Often it went unnoticed, disappearing into the familiar array of decorations that joined it on the sill.
But today, as winter’s frigid winds blew yet more snow past her window, it caught her eye. And the sight of it brought a soft smile to her face and hope to her heart.
“As if you were on fire from within.
The moon lives in the lining of your skin.”
― Pablo Neruda
She feasts on moonlight. It is moonlight that feeds her soul. That, and the winter’s snows, and pure songs from the hearts of new lovers. She distills their essence and turns it into a poem of spreading limbs, of white, reaching branches.
And in the summer, her broad leaves cool the children who lie on the grass gazing up at her beauty. And she takes the sweetness of their sighs and laughter into herself and adds it to her own song.
And when the night comes, she gathers the evensong of birds and the sky’s gift of starlight and she blends them with the moonbeams, and the wine of it feeds her soul.
Once more, February stretches its lavender clouds across the sky. Once more, the gentle snow powders the fields.
On the treetops, tiny leaf-buds are swelling; soon spring will sing her song. But while winter yet remains, February will bless us with its beauty, hoping that we are not too snow-weary to see.
With such silence February’s knee-deep snow disappears. It’s wondrous what three days of warmth can do.
Today, the hillside looks like that illusion where pinto ponies disappear into the snow-patched mountainside. I hear their hooves pounding in my imagination, as they gallop into the past with winter on their backs.
“Run, ponies! Run!” I cry to them.
Beneath my feet, last year’s leaves sink into the wet soil, patches of fern still holding, somehow, their green. The wind dances around me and carries my voice away, leaving behind the warm kiss of its moist promise.
February colors the day with sepia, as if that might fool you into thinking the rage of the breaking ice is distant somehow. But here it is before you, roaring and scraping as it hurls itself downstream. It will take more than a trick of color and light to hide its truth.
Here is the great clearing out, the making way. Here is the breaking up of what was frozen and immobile, pushed by the burgeoning rush of that which is to come.
However much these dull hues attempt to quiet its power, the joy of it all is filling the hills with its song.
Living in this world can break your heart. You look around and, sooner or later, you figure out that the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme was true.
The fall from the wall did shatter things into a million pieces. And no king and no army has the magic glue. You aren’t going to fix things, no matter how much you hope or believe.
But that isn’t why you’re here anyway.
Look past the broken pieces. See the remnants of the garden that remain beneath and beyond them and take your sanctuary there. The song still sings, no matter what man does.
Be at peace, child. You are eternally loved.
The ice jams on the river and the sudden melting of snow are hints, the old man told me. But you can’t be sure. They can happen in January just as well, when the worst of winter is still ahead.
Now the daylight pouring in your window after supper is a sure sign, and of course the appearance of robins is a pretty strong omen, too, although they’ve been known to be a bit too optimistic. It’s their nature, you know.
But here, honey. See this? The maple buckets are out. That’s a certain sign. Yep. You can count on it now. Spring’s a’comin’.
The river wasn’t surprised. When the snow pulled back and the ice melted, its waters were ready. Before you know it, fishermen will be wading here, trout nibbling at the colored flies they cast into the water, children watching from green banks in fascination, their naked arms burning in the springtime sun.
Nothing takes the river by surprise. It’s held all that was given to it for safekeeping. The larvae of mosquitoes, the sleeping turtles and trout, the grasses and seeds, the music of the frogs, all of it is safe and ready.
Now the sun comes to pull back the snow and melt the ice, right on time. And the river, singing its ancient song, flows on.
Tomorrow’s warm winds will sweep this snow-etched scene away. Oh, the deep layers that blanket the ground will remain. But before long, they too will disappear, giving way to fresh wonders.
All beauty is transient and ever-changing. You can’t make it linger, no matter how fervent your desire.
The best you can do is to drop everything when it appears. Just stop what you are doing and realize that you are in the presence of the holy. Just hush your thoughts and listen to it sing.