on my way to where the air is sweet


IMG_20140511_160604_348Sesame Street came to me in a waking dream the other night.

A vivid sense memory (probably a false one) of time lapse photography in Spring: a seed sprouting, chartreuse, then lime-green, into a two-leaved plant, piercing through the upper crust to reach the sun; a pink-gray earthworm making its way through black-brown earth and mulch; a barren tree bursting into light-drenched green leaf, pink-white flower.

These weren’t the exact visual images, I’m sure. But it doesn’t matter, because what really hit me were the sounds of Springtime playing in my head— a pseudo-Sesame Street-fever dream of crackling and popping, snuffling and rustling, shivering and shaking.

Beautiful inelegant noises, full of life, possibility and wonder.

This vibrant mind-dance probably came to me because here in the wonderland of Minnesota, we are finally out of one of the worst winters ever recorded.

May is two-thirds over and our trees just sprouted leaves. Our lilacs are at least three weeks late. And my poor, poor boxwood shrubs have probably bit the dust because of the brutal and overlong winter (they’re 90 percent yellow, but they’ll bounce back, right?).

So today, after five months of living in an Ice Age sequel, and another thinking we might need an ark, I finally felt Spring spring. Heard it, by God. The snuffling as I dug in the earth (my nails are still dirty even after scrubbing), the pop as I pruned my rose bushes, and the rustle as I cleared my beds to aid those tender shoots reaching for the sun.

Those who live in more temperate climates will probably never understand what I am about to say, but I would really like them to:

Living through our dramatic winters (especially this one, but a few others I can recall in my last 14 here) has taught me what trust is all about.

Maybe even faith.

I don’t mean that in a religious or spiritual way. Well, maybe I do. You decide. Basically, I have to trust, or have faith, that following the natural order, Spring will eventually come, contrary to all external appearances and crappy weather forecasts.

It is not easy.

Sometimes I worry. Okay, I worry a lot. The longer winters, the hotter summers. We hear about it all the time about the future of our planet, its changing natural cycles — shifting climates, inhuman temperatures, superstorms and growing, yet dying oceans. I worry about whether this little blue-green ball will be hospitable when our kids are our age, raising children of their own.

It’s enough to make me want to bury my head in the sand. Or just dig in the dirt.

But if living through a Minnesota winter teaches me nothing else, it is that I, as an individual, have very little control…over much of anything. I can recycle, use environmentally sound detergent, unplug my coffee pot at night, but as far as slowing the progress of global warming goes, all I can do is trust, have faith, hope against hope. Believe that we will make it out the other side.

Just like we do with winter.

So I allow myself to live in the moment and revel in Spring when it finally comes. Dirt under my fingernails. A garden free of weeds. Bare feet. Sun-warmed skin. Open windows. It is what is right now. It is all we have.

And if I let it, it makes me want to sing with joy in the fulfillment of my belief that Spring came as promised:

Sunny days, chasin’ the clouds away.
On my way to where the air is sweet…

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