It’s that time of year again; trees a-flowering, flowers a-budding, buds a-popping, all giving way to the greening of leaves in canopies across the land.
Well, across the temperate land.
Here in Central Florida, everything stays green all year round. The palms, shrubs, and grasses wave happily in the constant breezes. Even cacti thrive in the sandy soil. What’s missing here is color, specifically, the diversity of color.
So, my green-thumbed husband ripped out all the scraggly (but green, to be sure) shrubs, replacing them with vibrantly colored flowers. What a happy difference! On St. Patrick’s day, he brought home “Paddy,” who wound merrily through a trellis that would allow her to climb up and along the bare side of our house.
Isn’t she lovely? Full of pastel pink flowers with stems intertwined, clambering up the wooden scaffolding?
But this is Paddy today. (My apologies to my friend Patty, in whose honor we named this beautiful new planting.)
She has dropped nearly all of her flowers. As I water her, and yes, whisper bits of encouragement, I search longingly for some new stems, new buds, or a bit of greening – just some signs of new life! But they are hard to find.
Paddy is suffering from transplant shock, my husband tells me. Common in plants that are uprooted and transported to new accommodations, they need time to get used to things and decide whether their new soil will be conducive to their needs. Life looks a bit bleak in the mean time.
Ironic, because given the size and plenty of the greenery here, I thought everything flourished. It seemed an everlasting spring. Apparently, I was wrong. The warm winter months which give way to warmer spring days are only the prelude to the hot, dry summer. If your roots don’t find good soil and plentiful water now, there’s not much hope for your future.
I guess that’s why the change of seasons are so important: a time to plant, a time to grow, a time to harvest, and a time to lay fallow. The seasons graciously allow us to send down our roots, grow up our stems, show forth our flowers and … and… and… to withdraw to gather our resources in times of hardship and prepare for the seasons that lay ahead.
Transplant shock, the product of our uprooting and the stark presentation of a new way of life, is jarring. Make no mistake: the buds on those trees which are now timidly unfurling and introducing themselves to new branches at new heights are the bravest of the brave. What courage it takes to strike out into the spring, come what may.
I am hoping Paddy will make it if I keep giving her some tender loving care. We have a certain camaraderie, she and I. Neither of us does transition very well, but our Maker knows this about us. We may not always show well in spring training; that’s our time to grow.
Nature is a tease this year.
Look at those chutes,
Yawning and stretching.
Time to wake already?
Seems like I just went to sleep.
Look at those buds,
Plumping on each branch.
Well, if he is, I guess I’d better.
The unfurling must be soon,
Baby, it’s warm in here.
Spring must be coming,
Warm, soaking rains must mean
longer days are just ahead.
And then I’ll grow strong
and tall and sure.
Or have we been fooled?
Fools to send our young ones out
before their time.
Before the winter rest hardies them.
Before they can collect their resources.
Before they can gather strength
For the season ahead.
We, old and wizened by seasons past,
may fend off the harshness
with wits and cunning
forged over years of seasons.
A life of winters has won us this privilege.
But the young, so unsuspecting.
Responding, by nature,
To a call which is not.
Put your coat on and your boots and mittens.
Do your homework, get your chores done.
Eat your vegetables, take your vitamins.
Put some meat on those bones.
Winter, we need you.
Don’t be a tease.
Be a teacher.
Teach us to pray and wait,
for the glorious wonder
Come, go, come, go.
Regular as the tide,
as the sun, as the moon, as the stars.
not a season,
not a regular,
not fixed in the universe.
with empty hands,
with full heart,
with agile mind in slowing body.
the me that changes
against the glory of days,
of season’s greetings and departures,
of life gone on
in neighboring houses.
Does anyone know?