“Thou met’st with things dying, I with things new-born” says the Shepherd in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. And his words seem a perfect description of spring. Not all is new growth. Much has died. Sometimes we remember our own dead most vividly when life returns to the world around us. We’re still here, but they will not share another spring with us, and sorrow is renewed along with the grass underfoot and the buds on the trees. A bittersweet time. A time of compost and ashes and dandelion greens in salads. A time of sunlight growing, of life rising in the spine like sap in trees. Spring, you old tonic.
Out of state and away from computers for several days, I return with a series of vivid impressions: visiting my now retired cousins in Madison, Wisconsin, seeing them on their third of an acre lot, the earth bursting with literally scores of varieties of flowers, everything up and blooming more than a month early. Their care over two decades in restoring an old and abused house to pristine condition (doing much of the dirtiest and hardest work themselves), the spaces full of lovely wood paneling and doors and moldings, and full as well of light on all sides from triple-paned windows. Above ten degrees outdoors and their furnace goes off, if they get any sun. A Druidic care for the space they live in, the house and grounds they beautify not only for themselves, but all who pass by and witness.
Longing for light. Opening blinds to a few wasps at the window, sluggish with morning cold. The hazy spring moon growing each night, that Pagan moon by which Christians reckon the date for Easter according to that strange formula of “first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.” (A perfectly Pagan calculation, when you think about it at all, even considering that the early Church wished for Easter to follow Passover, itself subject to a combined lunar and solar calendar.) People outdoors worshiping the sun on their skin, sitting in sidewalk cafes, heads leaned back and eyes closed. Mild days and cool nights. Love of this old world, with all its pains and joys. Love renewed, spring’s gift, waiting to ripen in fruit and flower and heart.