Extraordinary best describes today in Portland. Not the usual day at the end of March. Rain and gray skies linger longer those who love the sun would like. But today we have sun, blooming trees, flowers and warmth — 75 degrees!
The drive from our son’s home, where we enjoyed lunch outside and an egg hunt with the great-grandkids, brought to mind the contrast with last spring. About that time, I was reading a post on Joe Bunting’s The Write Practice. The prompt that day was the word “spring.” A longing for spring caused me to sit down and use that prompt to free write my thoughts of spring in the NW. Today I resurrected it from my files and share it with you here.
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Spring slowly glides in on a slippery mix of winter weather. Gray skies, falling rain, intermittent snow and hail, and damp, foggy days refuse Spring’s entrance. Attempting to display her palette of colors, Spring swipes patches of color into the fields and gardens anxious to come to life. She applies reds, blues, pinks, and yellows for the bulbs that have pushed through cold winter soil. Her gifts appear in pale green buds on trees that will bear fruit in season and in gardens where the arms of seeds push their way through dirt.
High In the sky Spring makes an effort to paint earth’s ceiling a brilliant blue interrupted here and there with clouds puffed up like bed pillows. Some days, if we’re lucky, Spring takes her yellow paint brush and dots the skies with sunlight. It falls on the growing trees and flowers, making them reach higher and higher.
Then Spring, like the joker she can be, pours buckets of rain down on the earth. The hyacinths that have bloomed out hang their heads low and touch the dirt. The Helleborus bow down as if in prayer, and instead of the earth producing yield, the moss grows heavy on the patio and drive. What is Spring up to?
Rains continue to pour from her resources, and now the creeks and rivers are at flood stage. They threaten people and homes along their banks. Although they’ve been through floods before, the fears come anyway. Should we be afraid of something as beautiful as Spring?
But then a clear day comes along after the storm, and we rejoice at the new things we see sprouting. Something different from before. New life. Abundant all around. Yet it lasts only a day and heavy rains come again threatening and flattening out plants and grass.
Spring has a difficult temperament to predict. At once, she can be filled with joys and delights, and the vicious fingers of storm reaching into our lives. We understand the rain is necessary to grow the goodness from the earth, but so much?
Even though the first day of Spring has passed us by two weeks ago, the gray days of winter filled with rain, fog and even snow at times still linger. Looking for bright spots amid the light snow, we find purple petals seeking a way out. Crocus didn’t have a chance this season – they didn’t bloom. Spring was not kind to them for winter pushed her aside. The elements too harsh. Other eager shoots somehow survived, and the native trillium stand tall and starkly white against their deep green leaves.
Another day with sun arrives, and Spring has a show in store. Driving west to east, I spy her in the distance. Regal and royal in her bearing. Wearing a cloak of ermine flowing down her sides to touch the snow-covered ground. Majestically she rises toward the sky, reaching ever higher for that crowning blue ceiling and bright sun. A reminder that the season is divided between here and there.
Here in the valley – where things grow green and lush – we hope for Spring to succeed. Yet there atop Mt. Hood rising above the valley winter rules. The mountain reminds us that indeed it is still winter on her slopes. Snowfall each day with perhaps a record for this season. The mountain looks down on us as we struggle to push spring into being – planting too early creating a replanting around the end of June. Both Spring and the mountain laugh at us about our lack of memory when it comes to planting time here in the valley.
Soon the mountain runoff will add to Spring’s rains in the rivers and streams. Together they will likely wreak havoc on some areas. But together, they will soon step aside and allow Spring’s best efforts to prevail.