I know that I have already blogged/written about something similar to this, but I can’t help it. Spring is in the air. As I sit in my recliner and the Girl and I watch Once Upon a Time (talk about an addictive show!), I can feel the urge to stick my hands deep into the soil and just feel the Earth pulsating beneath the tips of my fingers.
On my kitchen table, I have two sets of dirt-pots laced with seeds going through the process of sprouting. I started seeds only a week or so ago. As the snow was tumbling to the ground, I couldn’t resist. I had to find a way to validate the urge to live that was thrumming deep within me. So I bought a couple of trays, saturated the peat-pots with water, and watched as they grew at least four times. Even the simple process of hydrating the netted coins of dirt saturated the joy within me that life was about to start.
For a moment, as I peeled apart the netting, squished and loosened the soil, and dipped my fingers into the seeds enclosed in the envelopes, I was, briefly, a little like God (Please, Lord, don’t strike me down. I’m not trying to be blasphemous…just metaphorical). I had 72 Gardens of Eden in plastic trays.
In the last couple of days, the seeds sprouted and I now have green bean and black bean plants that are close to five inches each. They only have one set pair of leaves each not including the thick bosoms of where the seeds broke and planets erupted. Within each plant is a promise of summer dining, of beans popped from their little wombs and tossed into mason jars and hermetically sealed into winter dinners. Each little plant is a hopeful promise of days spent under the sun, hating the heat and humidity, but loving the sun-warmed vegetables that will literally pop off their stems and into my hands.
Sun-warmed tomatoes are God’s ambrosia to the world. Wipe off the dust and little bits of dirt that are still clinging to the skin and I have the perfect treasure in my hands.
When I was a junior in high school (nearly twenty years ago), I went to visit a friend on a cold February day. I had just finished failing another round of SATs and was feeling mildly discouraged. At my friend’s house, I watched as she screamed profanities at her mother who, eventually, had to ask me to leave. Feeling like I couldn’t escape the poor woman’s chagrin and shame, I left the house and walked home via the back-paths my mother forbade me to follow.
I was distressed by my friend’s ugliness. I was exhausted by bubble answers that didn’t really measure my intelligence but told people how likely I was to learn and succeed. I was walking through a February cold wasteland that would have made T.S. Eliot claim, even louder, that “April is the cruelest month” but February is even worse.
Eventually, I made my way down to the creek that was in the middle of my forbidden world and stared into the water that gurgled over the stones, completely unaware of me and my lack of contemplations. As I stood there, concentrating on a whole lot of nothing, I noticed a humble weed undulating and waving against the pressure of the tiny current.
Surrounding me were trees bare of their leaves. The grass was brown and dingy. Everything was dead, except this one emerald weed that had no name or significance other than it grabbed my attention and gave me, even if for a moment, a little bit of hope.
Yes. I found hope in a weed (don’t start making pot references. I don’t have the time or energy to deal with that foolishness). I was very much a Thoreau kind of a girl while I stood at the edge of a stream and watched a stupid weed fluttering in the water that was so cold it was painful to touch.
I don’t know how long I stood there. I guess the moments that passed don’t really matter. I didn’t plunge my hands into the frigid water to grab the weed and take it home with me so it could transform into something magical. Hey, this is reality here. A. The water really was icy cold. B. It was a water weed so, C, it wouldn’t have survived me pulling it out of the water.
But, regardless, in the middle of frigid February, on a day that was filled with judgment, I found life.
Much like the life that is surging on my table, at this moment, nearly twenty years later.
My wedding was held in a public gardens, not a church. My beloved mother was, initially, worried that I was not doing my Christian duty or something along those lines by getting married in a church. But, I explained to her that I didn’t see God in a building. I saw Him in the trees, in the flowers. Yeah, I sounded hippie-ish. I really didn’t mean to.
But I remembered then as I remember now that stupid weed in the creek that brought me a little bit of hope on a cold winter’s day. So on this last day of meteorological winter, I can honestly say that I feel like I am shedding my winter-skin as I look to the opening of spring. I am ready, Lord, I am ready to stick my hands in the soil and start putting down the plants that are starting their lives on my kitchen table and where I will eventually eat the produce that will hopefully come from each plant.
This is the hardest part of the school year, that point where even snow days offer no rest from the constant movement, from the constant requirements on my attention. But, when I look at those 72 seed pods, I find my hope again.
“All may yet be very well.”