My daughter informs me that the crocuses are up in our back yard. The snow that fell last week has disappeared. The sign out in front of the local ice cream stand announces 29 days until spring. There is a softness in the morning air. Today we walked to work.
The first year we lived in our current house we planted dozens of bulbs: tulips, daffodils, grape hyacinth, crocus. Last year we dug up a bunch of grass and put in shrubs and perennials and some exuberant annuals that may self-seed if we're lucky. We let the creeping ivy have its way with the lawn. I have no affection for lawn. Lawn requires mowing, a chore I dislike on principle -- tho in the early months of spring I do appreciate the opportunity to burn a few hundred extra calories every so often. When it comes to yards I favor a wild approach, a natural landscaping, tho I realize that the hand of the gardener ought be present, if only to keep the town managers from citing you for blight.
The appearance of crocuses is the first of many heralds. Throughout the year I'll receive regular flora and fauna reports from my daughter: the unfurling of buds, the arrival of birds, the building of nests, the spinning of webs, the flowering of herbs, the ripening of mulberries. These points of reference are significant to her, to us. That we had a hand in creating them -- planting the bulbs, hanging the bird feeders -- informs our appreciation: we are not just spectators, we are participants. We are present to this patch of the world, and our presence matters.
Spring is almost here. It lifts its veil, it flirts. It invites us back out into the world: come see, come see. If we're wise, we show up. We pay attention, and that is small payment, indeed.