Weekly Edgework #42 - Apr. 20, 2005

Spring to Life

Like other seasons in Manitoba, spring doesn’t come knocking unannounced. It gently teases its way into my subconscious mind – a mind beginning to grow weary of short days and long cold nights. Have you noticed, I say to Ruth, that the days are getting a little longer? Yes that is true, she says. Yet winter still has a firm grip on the ground and everything above and below it.

But the whispers of approaching spring become evermore audible. The sun is higher now, and when sheltered from icy prairie winds, I again begin to believe that it is more than a stingy source of light – that it also warms body, earth and soul. The wintry white blanket of snow surrounding my house begins a gradual metamorphosis into mounds of earth-colored fate grudgingly retreating for a summer’s respite, but vowing to be back with a vengeance. I laugh at such threats because I know they have no power for at least two seasons. Now is the time to party! Who can fear when spring is here?

One-by-one adults on my street begin to emerge from their hibernation. I wonder if they are aware that we have seen their children playing street hockey all winter in front of our house. I doubt it, because they emerge from their slumber ever so slowly, stretching their limbs as they greet their neighbors they haven’t seen since last October – then settling into a relaxed stance with arms crossed and feet spread in the middle of the street. I go out as well and we repeat to each other the profound and well-worn maxim, Looks like spring has come! You bet it does! It looks like spring has come! The sound reverberates down the block, as if to challenge winter to one last dual.

But the robin is back checking out my back yard, testing the flexibility of earthworms in various stages of de-icing. The killdeer announces its presence from some hideaway in my community. Killdeer! Killdeer! Noisier than the robin, but welcome nonetheless. And from out of nowhere bounce tiny balls of fur with just enough shape to let you know they represent this spring’s crop of rabbits. They test the first few shoots of grass with their nimble noses and seem to approve as they taste God’s greenery for the first time in their lives.

Meanwhile, the Autumn Joy that stood so bravely against the encroaching winter last fall still remains hidden in its silent cocoons just below the earth’s surface. The weapons used in its last brave stand lie crushed and broken by the winter now retreating swiftly as though ashamed of its short-lived victory. These old weapons will return quietly to the soil from which they sprang a year ago. But soon new armor will emerge to forge another set of weapons for a valiant fight with old man winter six months hence.

My tentative dreams of cascading flowerbeds now become more vivid as I add substance to dream. I gently separate the seedlings I have nurtured for a few weeks in my bay window and assign each their own semi-permanent home under my grow lights in my workshop. Once they are well rooted I will take them out to play in the spring sunshine for a short time each day at first. But as they get used to the real world, I will let them romp all day in the sun. After all, once they reach pubescence they must be prepared to stay out day and night – grownups, one and all.

And oh, did you notice, says Ruth quietly, that the buds on the old maple out back are beginning to swell? She doesn’t speak loudly for fear it might scare them back into their winter houses. Yes, I say in a similar tone of quiet reverence, they do look pregnant indeed! And after they have given birth they will provide dappled shade for Joel, Kesia and another still unborn grandchild in the green-colored sandbox below. The same spot where my now grown sons created imaginary worlds during summer days now filed away in memory banks.

Spring is a time of awakening. First a gentle shaking to tell you that it will soon be time to get up. Then more frequent and bolder jarrings and voices calling more insistently. Spring is here! It’s time to spring to life.