Friday, March 4, 2011

Hope Springs

Winter is long in the Maritimes.  It's large and in charge.

For now.

Snowmobilers are loving it.  Skiers too.  Winter enthusiasts (to me that's an oxymoron but we shan't go there today) have absolutely been thrilled with all this white stuff.

I've seen snowbanks twelve feet high, have been trapped behind a snow plow as it punched its way, backing up and taking its umpteenth run, through a huge drift on a country road in the Maritimes.

Contrast that with the scene we'll most likely see in as little as two months or so.  Culverts filled with run-off water, lawns bursting with greenery but too wet to mow, and best of all, the spring flowers!

First the crocus, the lily of the valley, and other assorted "early spring" flowers peek out from behind the snowbanks.  Then, the tulips, cautious souls which have been poking tentatively above the ground while the others were blooming (and being flattened by the last ice storm of April), send forth their stems and start to bud.  By May 1 they are showing their colours: rainbow colours, pastels, and deep reds and fuchsias.

The mess and the muck are part of the parcel.  

We welcome spring - and by spring I mean spring-time green and colour, not necessarily the date on the calendar - because it means an end to such a cold and forbidding winter.  By the time the tulips drop their petals, the sound of the first lawnmowers will be heard.

In the meantime, we wait.  All of nature waits.  The trees catch the scent first... and the tips of their branches bulge with pregnant anticipation.  Before the last winter storm has happened, they have already prepared themselves inside - the sap is flowing, unseen to most of us (unless you happen to be in the habit of collecting the sap for maple syrup!)

And slowly, almost imperceptibly, the miracle happens.  The temperature starts to rise. Oh, it acts like a yo-yo at first; winter is reluctant to release its icy grasp. 

But it happens.  The pessimism that we've fallen into, wondering if we'll ever be rid of the ice and snow - the irritability of cramped streets where snow removal crew have run out of places to put it all - starts to erode.

A flicker of hope.

And then we start to notice those other things.  Goose-song from alphabet letters in the sky.  Icicles with drips coming off the tips.  Snow turns to water when it hits our doorsteps.  The snow banks closest to the houses start to recede from the foundation.  And one day we head outside on our way to work and the unmistakable smell of spring - the smell of things decayed from last fall, mixed with muck and mire, nourishing the earth - greets us.

And hope springs. 


  1. Beautiful. And hope-filled. I'm looking forward to spring this year more than any other year in memory. I think it's because of the girls... we're too cooped up in here all winter long -they need to run and play outdoors!

  2. Aren't we all? (cooped up inside that is...)

  3. I love how the words just flow out of you. You express so aptly many of our own thoughts. Thanks.