Waiting for the moment spring is sprung

This is from "The Best Of" files of previously published articles and columns. We lived on a mini-farm at Clark, Mo., while we owned The Bullseye.

I always seem to miss it.

Every year, I promise myself that I’ll see it happen, embrace it, and when it makes its gradual appearance, I’ll be there to witness the miracle. But somehow, I always miss it. One day it’s a little warmer, maybe around 70, and then the spring peepers start peeping at night, the surest harbinger of spring that there is. Those little croakers can even peep their tune when the nights are in the 40s (and how’s that, since they’re amphibians?). Once they get started, they don’t shut up. And I love it. Spring is coming.

The season is changing. A few leaves start to bud out, those early lilies get ready to bloom, and the crackled, brown pastures take on a greenish hue. The variety of songbirds coming to the feeders changes almost daily and, if you’re really, really lucky, you just might spot a winter-weary snake on one of those first warm days. I’ll even spend long hours in a lawn chair outside.

If I get my way, I’ll have a hammock where I can repose with one or both of my “boys,” the black labs “Fierce” and “Freddy.” (Don’t be fooled by Fierce. Even though he loves to cuddle and doesn’t enjoy rough play the way Freddy does, Fierce is the Alpha male of this two-dog pack. I’ve seen how his quick glare can cause the hair on Freddy’s back to stand). The boys are still puppies, getting close to a year old, and they’ve been waiting for spring to get sprung, too. In fact, Freddy treats every morning like the first day of spring. He’s just so happy it’s almost painful to watch. Everything is wonderful, the world is his to enjoy, and his tail would fly right off if he wags it even one bit harder.

But it’s coming. Spring is getting here quickly. The winter was long and dark (short days really rob my psyche of sanity), but it wasn’t necessarily long and cold. It snowed, what, three times? The biggest snowfall was maybe 3 or 4 inches. Still, the rest of creation knew it was winter, so there was that awful dormancy that filled me with melancholy.

So I’ve been waiting. Fierce and Freddy are waiting. The red birds are waiting and need warmer weather so they’ll stop gorging themselves. We’ve got one Cardinal that just kind of waddles around the base of a feeder. It’s so plump, the thing looks like a tiny red chicken. I’ll not watch that bird for long, though, because I want to see it when it happens. I want to see spring come.

Two years ago while I spent most of March helping survey a 10-square-mile farm in Saline County, I watched the days get longer and the air get warmer. I remember the day the buzzards came back from wherever it is buzzards go for the winter. One by one, the winged scavengers landed in the crest of a lightning-damaged tree. I was sure they had come to eat me – such was my personal darkness. They mocked my sour disposition, but the longer days and warmer temperatures kept them at bay. I watched their soul-cold glares so long that when spring came, I missed it.

Last year, we were getting ready to start restoring an old farm house, and even though there were one-on-one moments with nature — like the little fox that studied me with as much curiosity as I studied him — life got so busy that one week it was 65 degrees every day and, the next thing I knew, it was the Fourth of July.

Missed it again.

I’m not sure you understand how much I look forward to spring. I don’t just want to see the green emerge. I want to smell the difference in the leaves. I want to stand so still that I can hear the May apples poke their heads through the soil. I want to hear the feathers gently brushing against eggs as the robin on the nest shifts its position.

There was a day in January when it was something like 2 degrees and icy. I overheard someone say, “This is what we prayed for in August.” I’m not so sure about that, but now that we’re on the topic, how about changing that prayer this year. When it’s been 100 degrees for two weeks, just ask for spring all over again.

And, this time, ask for plenty of opportunities to hear it, smell it, feel it and see it arrive.

Don’t miss it this year.

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Filed under A reporter's life, Family, MIP: Memoir-in-progress

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