Hardiness comes in all forms. Fading whitewash on the northside of a house. window glazing dulled by grit and rain lashing against it. Or a stone at the water’s edge. Years of tides, waves, storms crashing against it and its rough smoothness, a few sharpened barnacles. A redwood forest, astronomical growth standing firm against unimaginable winds, snows, ice storms.
And then, through ice-crusted snow, a slender, bright green spear, unnoticed, then longer. A bud, evolving yellow. One morning you go out to retrieve the newspaper and a nodding yellow trumpet greets you as if to say no matter what life will bloom.
So the other day I was talking to someone about having brought some bulbs with me to the house I’ve moved to, the usual suspects– hyacinths, daylily, daffodils, and some not-so-usual– candy cane sorrell, star gazer lilies, orchid iris, and that they were just coming out of dormancy. They had small, pale green leaf buds sprouting from the tops of the bulbs which actually is helpful for me to determine the root from the flower end. Sometimes it’s not so easy. But since they’d begun to awaken I knew I needed to put them in the ground pretty quickly. “Why?” my friend asked. I said that with no soil around the bulb for the roots to grow in it would feed off of itself. Not many things more frustrating than opening a box of mixed bulbs late winter to find dessicated, shriveled pulpy masses with wilting greenish leaf blades.
Still, it made me think. Here we are (parts of the world anyway), mid-winter when most everything is asleep, or moving very, very slowly. And the new year is upon us. Harbinger of hope, new beginnings, an awakening, opportunity for change, new directions or a reinforcing of changes already begun. When everything is still for the most part sleeping.
In the silence, this grey-dark stillness transformation begins. Things are not as still as they seem. Cell mitosis happens, bacteria and fungi swarm over dead tree limbs creating new earth. Grubs lie silent under the earth’s surface waiting to emerge and begin their new life. Things are not teeming yet, but the anticipation is such that we nearly hear it before it arrives.
Nothing is ever truly still, nothing is ever completely wasted. Something happens. Some transformation, an order out of destruction.
Did I miss Spring? Something so all-consuming, the pain of my Murphy loss and I missed an entire section of a year?
The greening of a lawn… tiny miniatures of oak leaves, silvery-shining in their infancy as trees awaken. A luna moth drops from its chrysalis onto a forgotten splice of driveway, warming its wrinkly, vermilion gold wings into sun-strength.
Peeper frogs give procession to the dawning chorus of birdsong as sun defrosts a newly soft earth. Spiderlings take flight on tiny gossamer parachutes from their newly-hatched egg-webs. A succulent smell of honey suckle streams into the air lifting early springlike nuance and burgeoning trees lazily fill the blue sky gaps with growing leaves. Once-sparse ground white snows of clover blossoms and leaves, vinings and tendrils stretching their sleepy stems across the forest floor. Dandelions and daffodils nodding bright cheer from the sun. Gentle rains puddling drops to hibernate-thirsty roots and swelling streams.
And finches, red-wine dipped color over their lovely faces and throats, the hummers buzzing again, squeaking territorial disputed life. Tiger swallowtails, flitting aimlessly, flaunting delicate yellow streaks with black, boldly circling the new air.
Yes, this year I saw.