As a verb, it’s what I recommend you do, squinting and scowling, the next early morning you’re feeling desperate. Go outside and accept the fat white middle of winter: it is 37 days old and has 53 days left. We’re not even halfway.
Bill and I, we are out of coffee and we are out of tea. We are not getting to the bottom of the laundry pile anymore, and the animals are restless, grumpy, mud-relocating machines. We think the roof might be leaking, but we can’t tell where it’s coming from. Last week, someone drove into a tiny heirloom apple tree of mine and snapped it right in half.
I don’t feel like ordering seeds yet, and I don’t feel like planning the garden. There is a stack of catalogues I’ll wake up ready for some week soon, but for now, there’s something mean about these anemic little days that makes all that wholesome, springly industry too virtuous to bear.
Thus, the canvas. It is the happy compromise for those of us who have become translucent for lack of sun. A simple process: Go outside, and find all the things that look different than they did two weeks ago, repeat.
If nature surprises us with unimaginable March and April, it’s only because she’s been sneaking things into place during these short days. All of the beginnings of our beautiful, smug spring are in place, and it delights me to discover them colorless and unfriendly out there. The daffodils bulbs in the herb garden must have taken cue back in December to have their creepy green salamander fingers up through the rosemary already:
My baby orchard is the slyest of them all. It outdid itself during its first spring and summer, bearing me handfuls of misshapen little fruit we were told not to expect. The trees, they put out new branches all through the heat and dry wind in the summer, and in the fall they held onto their dry, brown little leaves longer than most other trees on the street. All year long, it was a beautiful, painful display of effort out the window.
Now, they’re standing out there, minus that one, probably feeling stingy and old. They do not feel virtuous, and they do not feel industrious, and I know because I looked carefully for the signs of it.
Fine, trees. So it goes. My seed catalogues are untouched in your honor. Spring, once it gets here, will be all the better for having started so completely beneath our notice.