The world is awash in spring, which announced its arrival with a fine, mustard-yellow coating of maple and Bradford Pear pollen on my car yesterday morning. No matter that astronomical spring is still three weeks away. The winter colors of brown tree trunks and deep green holly leaves are replaced by the yellows of daffodils and forsythias, the burgundy of maple tree blossoms, the pink and magenta of the tulip magnolias, and the sudden virginal white of the star magnolias.
According to my garden journal, the tulip and star magnolias are blooming a solid month earlier than they did last year. We’ve set record high temperatures this February, topping 80 degrees on several days. The warmth is a delight after this icy winter, but bodes ill for what summer will bring. And we’ve once again reached the stage of “severe drought” according to the National Weather Service. Winter rains never came, and the snow melt was insufficient to recharge groundwater supplies. The beds in my garden are bone dry, despite their layers of mulch. I’ve emptied half of two rain barrels carrying water to broccoli and lettuce transplants and to newly planted seed beds.
For the first time in many years, I have the time to plant an early spring garden. I cheated the seed-starting calendar with the purchased seedlings. My pre-sprouted peas are tucked into their trenches, still too shy to make an appearance in the spring sunlight. This past weekend, I direct seeded tiny red and black periods of kale, nearly transparent commas of carrots, and tiny white and black exclamation points of lettuce.
Each seed, carefully positioned in its furrow, can provoke a crisis of trust. What if this is the year the seeds don’t sprout? What if this is the year that the miracle stops? What if this is the year that the center does not hold, and all that we count on fails us? But a deep inhalation, full of the scents of daffodils and garden soil, eases my mind. The cycle will continue. It is not under the jurisdiction of man, despite all that we do to make it more difficult on this earth for this new life to emerge. Life is bigger and stronger than we are; the future that is contained in these tiny seeds will have its way.
Last week, my friend Catherine read this poem to her Soul Collage class participants, a poem so perfect for this time of seeds and hope:
You know that the seed is inside the horse-chestnut tree,
And inside the seed there are blossoms of the tree, and the chestnuts, and the shade.
So inside the human body there is the seed, and inside the seed there is the body again.
Thinkers listen, and tell me what you know of that is not in the soul?
A pitcher full of water is set down on the water –
Now it has water inside and water outside.
We mustn’t give it a name, lest silly people start talking again about the body and soul.
If you want the truth, I’ll tell you the truth;
Listen to the secret sound, the real sound, which is inside you.
And last night, it rained.