Friday, May 3, 2013

Spring springs slowly

It took a long time for spring to arrive this year.

The leaves all blew off the trees during Hurricane Sandy late last October, and the branches have been bare ever since. Bare enough to disappear under the two feet of snow that fell during Snowstorm Nemo, and the many inches that fell before and after that February storm.

And then the snow finally melted, and the branches stayed bare for weeks longer. The air was chilly and the ground hard and brown. I didn’t think about it much until we traveled south to Washington, D.C. in mid-April. There, in the warm sunshine, with freshly sprouted grass and blossoming trees all around us, the kids seemed to open up just like the blossoms, playing and exulting in the warm air they’d missed out on for so many months.

When we returned home, though, our lawn was still brown, our trees still bare, our shrubbery gray. There had even been a little bit of sleet in our absence.

So we waited. And then finally in the past week or so, our world turned green, the vibrant green of spring. Tiny leaves appeared on the trees and bushes. The grass on our lawn grew in bright green as well. Sunlight warmed the air. The kids and I started playing badminton nightly after dinner in the fading sunlight, something we never do when it’s below about 60 degrees. Yesterday at her painting class, Holly sat on a mat in the grass and painted a patch of yellow and purple flowers, so now we have a painting in the dining room with colors as vivid as those outside, where the daffodils that were planted long before we moved here are blooming once again.

Yet when I went for a walk after dinner last night, I noticed how many branches still didn’t have any leaves, how many patches of lawn have yet to grow in, how many buds on our neighbors’ apple trees haven’t opened yet. And somehow that was comforting too. It reminded me that this doesn’t all happen at once: spring has been magnificent these past several days, but there’s still more of it to come. Seasons in New England tend to unfold slowly, and it was good realize that we’ll keep discovering new blossoms and fresh greenery for weeks to come.

It would be a mistake to rush through this phase of slow blossoming. Summer, with its holidays and vacations and trips, carries with it more overt excitement and celebration than spring. Spring has a quieter splendor, and this week I’m reminding myself to stop counting the days until summer vacation and enjoy every moment of May.

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