Spring is officially here! Or the season of natural disillusion, as I have come to call it during those cynical moments when when I can’t seem to keep up with changes in weather or the accompanying shifts in mood and task. Just when you put away the snow boots, the April snow showers are sure to follow right behind. Once you start feeling energized by the thaw after a long winter, a seasonal head cold is sure to come and knock you right back into submission. And of course there is the gardener’s gamble with spring…to plant or not to plant? All of us green thumbs have no doubt taken a risk or two over the years, only to find out that Mother Nature does not always favor a spring gamble. You have heard me say it here before, and will likely hear me say it again…Spring is uncomfortable. Why do I say that? It has been my experience that transitions are hard. This time when we are transitioning from cold to warm, dry to damp, quiet to bustling, and inward to outward is no exception. So many of us like to know what we can expect and what is expected of us, and times of change are simply not conducive to these mortal expectations. We can predict the winds of change just about as effectively as we can predict the weather patterns of May!
Now despite this dreary spin on my summary of spring, I understand that it is the favorite season for many of us. What a joyful time to throw open the windows, get the body moving and find our way outdoors once again! A time to clear out the stagnant. For many, it feels like we have been given a new lease on life, with fresh perspective and renewed energy. We begin to shed our winter layers and stretch our bodies out from their postures of hibernation. The birds, the insects, the animals and the plants are all abustle with the preparatory tasks of the season. Outside my door, the robins are squabbling over prime nesting real estate, the animals of both field and forest seem to be multiplying daily and the pollinators appear to be scouting out their foraging routes in the hours of growing warmth and light. As my friend and author Heidi Barr said, “This time of mid-spring is a time of planting seeds, of transformation, of emergence and of reclaiming communities we let go dormant when days got dark. But the light is back, earth is reawakening, and the soil is aching to support life.”
“Aching to support life.” Spring is the season of new beginning and new life, evident in whichever direction you might look – from the freshly cultivated farm fields and newborn calves with unsure footing, to the sprouts emerging from the cracks of your sidewalk. If you pay close attention, you can experience this abundant new life with all of your senses: the smells of the thawing earth, the taste of the first wild edibles of spring, the feel of the sun on your softened winter skin, the buzzing sound of the first emerging insects and the striking palate of colors that begin to decorate the landscape once again. And while I know we are quickest to describe spring as a time of renewal and rebirth, I would like to pose a new experience of spring – the experience of reunion. This word “reunion” resonated loud and clear for me as I took one of my first big spring hikes just the other day.
Lately, I have been overwhelmed with my own undigested thoughts and emotions. Since transitioning away from the dark winter months, I have made quite a few changes in my personal and professional life – as I am sure many of you have as well (intended or unintended!). When my overwhelm got the better of me, I decided I was not good for much else and set out to stretch my legs and take a walk on the land that I just recently came to call home. For the first leg of my journey, I continued to churn the same tired thoughts and worries that had been plaguing me for days prior. But as I ventured on, and this new landscape unfolded before me, I was eventually whisked into the moment. My senses were stimulated by sights both new and old. My mental overwhelm was replaced by a new feeling, one of familiarity, of comfort. First it was the delicate white petals of the bloodroot, followed by the jagged edges of the tender nettle plants. The mosses, the tree buds, the smell of my skin as it was kissed by the warm sun. With each passing moment, I was more deeply embraced by the signifiers of spring. I spoke aloud, “I remember you!” and “Ooh, I didn’t know you lived here too.” It felt just like a reunion. I’m not talking about those awkward 20-year high school reunions with forced conversations and bad food, or the type of family reunions that you search far and wide for excuses to avoid. Rather I am talking about the best kind of reunion you can imagine – like the one you plan at a Great Lakes cabin with your favorite college girlfriends, or the kind you have when you see your favorite cousins after far too much time and space has passed between you. I am talking about the kind of reunion that reminds you, or unites you, with all things dear and true to you. A reunion with the day, the season, the Self.
The word “reunion” indicates an act of being brought together again. I believe that my experience of reunion in the woods alongside my favorite ferns and river-loving birds was just potent enough to remind me of the immense potential of spring. If winter is a time of quiet introspection, where we dive below the surface to dream, to remember, to ponder and analyze…then perhaps spring is the time to unite the insights from this exploration with our manifestation, with our actions, in the coming months. We must experience life in order to learn from it, we must go through the tunnel to come out the other side. We can’t write a good song or a poem about something we know nothing about. That being said, winter offers us the introspection, and spring the opportunity to see what has survived the long, cold freeze. What has persevered and deserves more attention, more care, more of our personal energy? And what can be left behind? To be conscious of this dynamic is most empowering, as it allows us to make choices about what we want to carry with us, and how we want to greet each day anew. We may not be able to avoid the chill of an unexpected thunderstorm this month, but we can certainly make a conscious choice to bring an umbrella, or better yet, to dance in the rain!
And just as not all the acorns are destined to be great oaks, I believe that some of the substance of our wintry contemplation is best left to compost. Just as some seeds remain dormant and some critters do not survive the cold, I am sure that we need not bring all of the substance of winter with us into this new year. Some might say it is as simple as the survival of the fittest. Not all aspects of our mind, of our emotional bodies, or even our physical bodies are destined for fruition. Participate in the process. Take a walk when you need to. And perhaps you will find, as I have, that despite the discomforts of the transition, the reunion is grand!
What experiences from this winter are informing and influencing you this spring? And are any of these expired or ready to be composted toward some greater effort? How will you set out to do just that?
How do you know what seeds to plant and tend to in your life? And what are the best ways for you to nourish your seeds?
Can you imagine ways to apply this seasonal awareness to your relationships, as communities, as a nation, as the inhabitants of a beautiful planet? And how can we make choices to cultivate seeds in a way that is of benefit to all?
May the seeds you nourish allow you to feel unity with your Highest Self and all that you hold sacred. May you find the greatest reunion this Spring. Happy May Day to all!