One nice thing about living in Wisconsin is that most people (some work in snow removal) are happy when Spring comes. Of course, we’re never sure when that is and there have been times when it seemed to come along with summer. Just the other day we had snow here in Milwaukee and the temperatures stayed in the 30s. But we also had weeks of spring flowers pushing through sleeping grass still needing to be thatched or aerated.
We watched as the sun slowly climbed in the sky day after day and we had our favorite place to sit watching in the late afternoon as the sun sent golden evening rays streaking down the east-west street in front of our home. Sometimes we’d take time a walk – before or after supper – to see the trees basking in this light, building up their strength to bud and unfurl new leaves.
Snow drops, with their white heads pushed their way up, often through a blanket of snow and crocuses soon followed. We’d vie with each other to be the first to say, “Did you see the crocuses next to the driveway?” And then it was as if that first crocus told the others, “Snow’s gone; it’s safe to come out.”
And they came up all over.
Siberian squill, with their bright blue bells, were next up, clusters everywhere. I worried about what would happen to my lawn but remembered that they’d be gone after a few mowings, hiding for next year. While walking our beagle, I passed small grape hyacinths with their miniature clusters of purple or pale blue flowers in a neighbor’s yard.
And then the daffodils were up so Spring must be here. They’re clusters all over in many local parks. And to confuse me they’re also called narcissuses and jonquils. Many people bring glass vases with paperwhite bulbs sitting on colorful stones, keeping them in water and forcing the blooms. The flowers typically emit a strong, sweet smell which can be overpowering. The paperwhite is a narcissus and shares the Greek root with narcotic; it’s made me dizzy and I can attest to the connection. Be careful as the plant is poisonous.
By this time, the seeds started indoors by the more ambitious gardeners have started to sprout and it may be the last time to sit back before the work and fun really begin. If we reflect, there are lessons to be learned – it’s often easier examining the world of nature than ourselves.
We treat our surroundings with kindness and consideration, pruning, fertilizing, and cleaning away the debris and litter. Perhaps we’ve given thought to move some plants around when the soil is ready, thinking about how different colors would work together: clusters of yellow, swaths of blue and white. Perhaps we’ve thought how nice it would be to get a few new plants this year – diversity comes to mind. And though it’s early, to see if we can find some black tulip bulbs which are stunning!
As I walk around the yard I realize I’ve gotten some things right while other projects were left unfinished. And, oops, there’s one area that needs attention. But, that’s life – always something needs doing.
And it’s good to remember, spring will come around again next year. We’ll have a chance to renew ourselves, learn from experience, and do better. As Big Bill Broonzy sings: You know, the sun’s going to shine in my backyard someday.
Let’s remember to be kind and considerate even with the dandelions; their leaves are good in salads and the early green buds make excellent wine.
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.