Spring has crept into these mountains like slow rain. Soft and almost imperceptible, if not for the bright flashes of forsythia and cherry trees, the early Lonicera and pussy willows, the red maples with their tufted rings of tiny crimson blooms. If you look, there are crocuses and speedwells flattened to the ground and daffodils opening in scattered groupings by sunny streamsides. It seems every hill is mottled in purple, dead nettle velveting their slopes. We’ve had several frosts arrive unexpectedly, like neighbors you’d almost forgotten about, until they show up on your doorstep demanding something. We’ve had to welcome spring in halts and bursts, fits and starts. Days where the birds sing from sunrise to sunset, nights where all is silent but the creak of ice on warming bark.
The day after the equinox I awoke to snow on the ground and the wind with all its gathered voices rushing through the valley. My neighbors had covered their blooming fig trees with blankets in the hope that their sweet summer bounty could be saved. Sometimes springs happen, sudden and simply welling from within, so tender and easily passed by. Sometimes even spring needs to be protected, loved, nurtured and spoken to softly—keep blooming.
I’m reminded of a quote from Pablo Neruda, a man who loved the spring in all things, “You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep spring from coming.”
The greens are out and in abundance. Chickweed, day lilly and creasy greens, bittercress. Stinging nettle and cleavers beginning to catch the wind and passing skirts of early spring worshipers. This weekend I sowed poppies and oats, broadcasting their seed across the tender tilled soil. I have such an admiration for these plants, the ones that grow in the early disorder of spring. The ones that love the occasional chill, the drama and exception of an impetuous thaw. We all could learn how to be better fed by such wild unpredictability.
I’m in the depths of preparing for my upcoming class on Spring Cleansing: Traditional Appalachian Herbs for Detoxification and Transformation. It has been such a pleasure. To study the procession of every new tendril, reading, daydreaming about walking with Tommie Bass in early April, falling in love with the early roots and shoots of spring all over again, thinking about flowers and flowers and unfurling all day long.
I’m looking forward to posting some of the material from my class up on the blog. Sharing some of the subtler passions of this season, it’s slow materialization, sparse openings, fresh medicine— the sweet space given for reflection. What in me is budding and beginning? What in me is shrinking in unexpected snows? How long do I wait before the dare and pomp and pure bravado of blooming forth?