Because of Winter

snowprintOver here in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, March came in like a lamb and it’s going out like a lion. Of course, I’ve already cleaned and stored away my down coat, quilted bibs, and other cold weather gear. Rather than have to wash them again, I’m making do with multiple layers of spring and summer clothes until the last frosty lion of her pride has sauntered north. Only my ears are suffering, but none too badly. It sure has been nice to hit the ground in bare feet without concern for sticking to the pavement.

The wave of warmth gave an early, melt-y end to a few events that ride on the tail of winter, like the Art Shanty exhibit out on White Bear Lake, but people seemed to happily make do with last minute changes of venue. Other folks had fun roaming their yards to greet the new, green shoots of crocus and tulip or finding summer accessories previously lost under blankets of snow.

I’m excited for what opportunities might be resting beneath the surface, ready to break through as we shake off the last dust of frost under lengthening days of sunlight. This promise of new life and potent energy for growth is a reminder of the gifts that can come from shedding the old to make way for the new. A season ripe with hope.

The subject of hope came up in conversation the other night. The woman who brought it up commented that she was feeling sad about having hope and wondered why, that hope should feel positive. I guess I’ve always associated hope with happiness, the joy of hoping for something desired, but as we talked about it she illuminated an aspect of hope that I hadn’t thought of before.

That the birthplace-moment of hope is dissatisfaction, or loss. It has to be, right? That when people hope they have a desire or expectation for something better to happen. A way out of an unhappy situation. A light at the end of the tunnel bringing verve and energy, to shed doubt and press on.

Spring growth.Which kind of explains something that happens for me at the onset of every spring. Just when the buds of trees and shrubs are swelling to burst and bathe everything in splashes of green, and the migrating birds are returning to fill out the morning chorus line, I am stopped by an odd moment of hard-to-name sadness.

That feeling came yesterday while I was walking through a small grove of maples. Life was emerging all around me, and into that moment also crept this sadness. I stood quiet and listened to the energy of spring happening in the form of skittering squirrels and chirping birds. I realized that this sadness I was feeling was the birthplace-moment of gratitude. That from this moment comes my thankfulness for the lives of the plants and creatures that died to make way for this vernal orchestra of color and sound.

Spring happening because of winter, not in spite of it.