On Spring, 2013

To mark a year’s passing since my “last” post on this blog, I decided to post an email I just sent to a few friends about this year’s “spring”:

“Pardon my self-indulgence: I want to talk about the season.  It’s what current social practice calls “sharing,” a word I could never have brought myself to say in earlier parts of my Oklahoma-inflected life.  Probably to my detriment.

Calendar says it is Spring.  Bones say: “still winter,” and I know that’s so for many of my addressees.  It seems to be the identifier of 2013.  As I type I look out my office window to endless monochrome gray sky, leafless gray trees, and clumps and mounds of gray snow on gray earth, bordering the gray asphalt.  The weather pundits say we shall be 6-8 weeks behind last year’s pace for Spring’s arrival (which, admittedly, was ridiculously early).  I find it hard to accept.

Oh, there are reasons for hope: I’m hearing bird calls that come only in Spring, and some of the old crowd are now at our feeders.  There are a few hardy crocus and daffodils snugged against foundation walls on my morning walk.  The snow piles are shrinking.  There are firm plans for trapping and expatriating the groundhog who has taken up residence in our neighbor’s basement through an entrance tunnel just by Fran’s intended tomato garden. The flowering tree buds are bulking up.  The rhododendron leaves are no longer curled into cigarette sized cylinders against single numbers on the garage thermometer.

And there is my own stirring: I am two days into a three-day plan to prune the plum tree (so tempting to say plum the prune tree!). I’ve simplified and opened most of the branches that I can reach, so now I must go buy a pair of long-handled shears to do the top third of the tree.  No fruit the last two seasons from our neglect of this ritual.  And I refuse to do this job on an unstable ladder.  Dreams of plum preserves or cobbler next autumn.  Maybe.

Also dreams of escape to warmer climes.  I’ve been checking prices for Amtrak and the airlines for an April vacation south.  But as usual, driving takes too long, and is too tiring.  Amtrak takes much too long for a short vacation.  And air fares are ridiculously high, when added to car rental at the southern end.  And where?  We are tempted to revisit port towns we visited by boat 20+ years ago: Elizabeth City, NC, Beaufort, NC, Beaufort, SC, Charleston, SC, Wilmington, Georgetown and Myrtle Beach, SC, and so many others on the Intracoastal Waterway route south.  But the promise of food options and lodging on land in those regions could never resurrect the joys of our original sailing adventure, and so much has changed since the early 90s.  Including us.

My hermit side says: “Stay home.”  I dream of reading Virgil’s Georgics –the most poetic agricultural manual ever written, and dating from 29 B.C.  By the fire. An instruction manual for how to get the gods back into your garden.  I’m not big on the Farmer’s Almanac, seed catalogs, and, happily, have no responsibilities involving birthing lambs, castrating male bovines, breaking horses, plowing fields, incubating chicks, or building rabbit hutches.  But….there is something in the blood that wants to join the dance of spring, cultivation, renewal.  I suppose I’ll settle for the usual lawn care, and Fran-support for her flower and vegetable gardens.  And maybe a small trip somewhere for whatever purpose.

I have attached a photo of my grandfather (dad’s dad) and family taken probably around 1905, standing (most barefoot) in front of their sorghum mill (sorghum is a sweet tall grass used for sileage and making sweet syrup like molasses).  Oklahoma. My dad is not among the children: he had not yet arrived.  My grandfather is in a straw hat at far right. Zooming will reveal that maybe we do share some DNA in facial structure.  I would not wish this life, but I’d wager that grandpa, born before Lincoln was president, would understand some of my “stirrings” and discontent on this still-winter day?

Anyway, happy spring to all”