Spring ordinarily is death’s antithesis, as surely as it is winter’s.
At the end of our family’s harshest winter, my dying husband’s heart improbably would not let go of us. It refused to take its last beats until, at least by the calendar, winter had at last elided into the season of growing green that he had always tended to.
Just four days later, the snow had melted entirely away. That afternoon, in a sun-soaked Spring service at her school, one of our daughters read “A Man,” written by poet Louis Untermeyer after his father’s death: “I thought of you…. / And it was like a great wind blowing / Over confused and poisonous places. / It was like sterile spaces / Crowded with birds and grasses, soaked clear through / With sunlight, quiet and vast and clean. / And it was forests growing, / And it was black things turning green.”
One of her brothers read Amy Gerstler’s “In Perpetual Spring,” which ends with an expression of “the faith that for every hurt / there is a leaf to cure it.”
Spring was my husband’s season–although all seasons were, in their way and his. He would rotate his birdfeeders’ weekly specials to accommodate anticipated guests, and make sure our porch was off limits to humans when robins began building their nests in a favorite corner of the 1805 ornamental molding atop its pillars.
The fruit trees he had planted would begin to bloom. His vegetables and fruits would soon make their way into the world. Armored khaki orbs of quince would drink in April showers and grow so heavy that they bowed the thick branches which hosted them. At their greatest girth, they often settled together on the ground, still attached at their stems to their sturdy trees. They congregated there like meditating buddhas, to be sniffed at by our perplexed beagles. Sour bruised blue-black grapes and fuzzed raspberries and peaches would cluster.
In true winter I would survey once colorful leaves entombed under ice, and headless bush branches and empty trees and abandoned robins’ nests. I would be certain none of them could be brought to life again, to bear peaches and sour apples and cartoonishly colorful hydrangea and rhododendrons. But in Spring they somehow still do.
Even that Spring.
Since that singular March day twelve years ago, true Spring arrives for me not on the designated calendar date, but whenever I spot the first fully-bloomed flower. In New England, that has invariably been a crocus.
I picture it gingerly poking its way through richly layered leaves glossy with melting snow, as if doubting whether it truly is time to be visible and vulnerable. But once it peeks out above the dense autumn detritus, its lavender or buttered white soup-ladle petals relax, and it theatrically basks in the sun. A Fantasia character come to life, for as long as the light lasts.
Spring came a few days early this year.
12 thoughts on “Perpetual Spring”
Contemplating the impact of the wheel of the year on a broken heart…mine two days after Valentine’s day, yours just before the arrival of Spring. As the wheel keeps turning, our hearts respond, emptying and filling again.
Love this image, and the assurance that it will always fill again
Thank you for sharing such a personal post, heartfelt and wonderfully written.
Thank you so much for reading, and your blog is lovely.
Thank you, and I am glad to have found yours!
So, the first thing that popped into my brain (which, I admit, is somewhat… off) was, “Macro, macro lens! I want to use, a macro lens!” (Sung to a popular tine. Dad joke volume knob turned all the way up!) Picturesque writing, as always, and beautiful images. There are micro and macro rhythms in life: the seasons, the holiday road signs that alert us and tell us what to do… wake up, brush the teeth, go to work, go home, go to bed, wake up, brush the teeth… and the rhythm of memories, which, when you think about it, are terrible at keeping time. And people memories are embedded in unknown regions of our heart and mind, and skies and smells, and rooms… and Spring. Wonderful post.
Ok, now I can’t get that tune out if my mind (but it’s very cheerful nonetheless)….time and memories and the micro and macro of every day and season make such a rich mash-up. Anything can sweep me away, which isn’t such a bad thing, even when it comes with a little more heartbreak. Thanks for coming along for the ride (and the tunes)
The thing about memories, I think, is that they are always there, ready to be recalled. Hopefully your glorious blossoms bring you a smile, especially as they peek through winter’s chill
They do; thank you! It’s so much easier to smile now because beautiful things, including everything my husband planted and nurtured, always come around and find me again
Find you, fill you – spring memories. I love your beautiful post, Stephanie.
Thank you, Leya!