Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God. ~ Leon Bloy
If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is, “Thank you,” it will be enough. ~ Meister Eckhart
A week of temperatures in the mid and upper 70’s—and more of this in the forecast—has taken us from an underwhelming winter through a barely-whelmed spring and into an overwhelming summer in the space of two weeks. Of course, all of this can reverse, and probably will. Life in the time of climate change.
While fellow life forms merrily rush forward in relishing the warmth, smells, bare feet, and outdoor grilling this weather affords, we gardeners can be, initially, a bit suspect and hesitant. Such dramatic temperatures cause anxiety regarding our plants’ premature budding, and we worry about weeds and pests gaining early footholds in their annual encroachment and destruction of our gardens. I’ve been checking the gardens every day, tentatively weeding on the perimeters, but not daring to remove the leaves and evergreen branches I use for mulch, or to tread too soon on tender garden beds. The rule here used to be: No vigorous gardening till after Memorial Day, but the change in climate has pushed the threat of frost back a week or two over the last decade. However, gardening before St. Patrick’s Day seems a bit risky and curious.
Very down-the rabbit-hole this year; that is, if there were any room, what with all the bunnies coming up-the-hole to joyfully romp among the paradise my humble gardens apparently present. The wire “wraps” we use to protect plants and shrubs from becoming winter meals are still in place, mostly; if I can dissuade squirrels from digging up tulip bulbs, the gardens will be fine. Maybe.
Like all gardeners, I try to anticipate and head trouble off at the pass; the unending surprises nature offers keep us agile and creative problem-solvers. It’s an active sport that lasts from thaw till frost. That’s why we like winter so much: it is the enforced time-out when all the players—the people, plants, and pests–can take a rest, heal from our losses, forget the stresses of the sport and again dream of new designs, stronger disease resistance, and an end to mildew, creeping Charlie, Japanese beetles, and black spot. If theater is your metaphor of choice, winter is a welcome intermission. This year, I feel like I’ve been called back into play before I got a chance at the water bottle, or the Third Act has begun without time for my costume change.
Winter has always offered us gardeners a much-needed dip in the River Lethe, so that in spring we emerge with trowels, rakes, and hoes, infused with hope, the memories of blights and droughts sunken deeply in oblivion. I can’t say that by mid-March I’ve yet forgotten the struggles of last year’s gardening; they persistently creep back and interrupt my garden dreams. I’d like another month with the perfection offered in garden catalogues…
But, of course, the shift in climate is not without gifts, and greeting them with happy gratitude certainly graces the experience at the energetic and spirit level. Sprummertime has allowed us to turn off the furnace, open windows, and bring the lovely breezes and smells indoors. Doing so also effectively removes any need for an alarm clock. With dawn’s birdsong, flocks of sandhill cranes yodeling overhead, fish jumping in the river, and who-knows-what running through the woods, it’s hard to remain asleep. (The crows know who’s running in their woods, and are very earnest in employing their alarm system to effectively carrying this news to the next county. Or state.)
And, in many ways, it’s a relief to enjoy the warmth and sunlight without the possibility of spending all day in the garden. Up at dawn and out on the trail with my camera, I’ve enjoyed the morning fog that our unusual weather has created, and all the ways it’s made sunrise even more magical than usual. The dogs and I have been going for longer walks, the canoe is taking us on exciting March adventures, and my husband and I have already purchased our annual passes for the bike trail, taking our first ride of the season last night, in t-shirts and shorts, before returning home to sit on the deck and grill a veritable feast.
We just finished reading Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul, a great reminder that setting down expectations, and letting go of resistance to the reality before us can deepen the spiritual journey and return us to a peaceful center that allows us to engage with greater joy. The messages are nothing new, but it seems the stark and simple spiritual truths bear repetition, and Singer’s book has been a lovely companion and coach to our necessary adjustments to sprummertime. The cup isn’t half-filled or half-empty: it’s overflowing with blessing.
The slow life allows for the release of anxiety, to better focus on the gifts this fantastical sprummertime offers. Choosing to go with mystery’s flow makes the present our continual destination. ETA: Now. No point in resisting what is. Gardening—and life—are always co-created with the surprises Spirit and nature offer; the best we can do is bring attitudes of joy and gratitude to the journey. Hospitality isn’t just something we offer guests; we can offer it to every moment of our lives. Hello! What have you come to teach me?
Caed Mille Failte!