I love when the first shoots become somethings with leaves. It’s hope rewarded. It makes the morning check-ins better than Christmas.
Winter in Vermont doesn’t really end in March. That happens sometime in mid-May after a last coating of snow, but in April, just when cabin fever seems like it’s getting critical, we do get signs of hope.
Most years, our first sign of hope has been the email from the Little League coach announcing the first practice schedule. There’s the tipped over composter as hungry bears wake and begin their neighborhood prowls. There are the signs for announcing community Spring cleanup‘s and Sunday brunches.
Our composter was upside down when we went out to the garden at the beginning of April, but, even if our kids were still playing, there will be no Little League this year. There will be no Easter or Mother’s Day brunches or, possibly, even a Green Up day – Vermont’s statewide, community spring clean up.
This cool, sunny morning, on the day before Easter, however, I went out to the garden inspect my peas and was greeted by vibrant yellow buds about to become daffodils. I’d been waiting for them to appear for weeks and had almost given up hope that they had survived another winter.
In spite of everything, the sun is still shining longer every single day, Mother Nature is still working her daily miracles, the daffodils will still come up, and winter will end.
So far this is been a pretty good exercise. Sure there is a leaning Tower of clothing on my side of the bed, and the Big Guy could be suffocated if he tries to go to sleep too early. But going through this pile of stuff give me a chance to understand what it means to truly feel joy from something you own.
As I’m going through the contents of my closets and drawers, I’m realizing I have a little bit of a handbag problem, more of a footwear problem than I would’ve liked to admit, and a scarf problem.
I have a collection of scarves, but I tend to wear only one or two of them over and over again. my go to winter scarf was rolled up and put back in the drawer as soon as everything was emptied. It doesn’t give me joy, but I work constantly. Then I put another piece from the pile, and I smiled instantly.
It was a piece made from antique handkerchiefs collected and assembled by my friend Maria Wulf. I saw the scarf when I was a guest artist at one of her open houses, and I remember the moment I saw it. They were pinks and greens and blues, and two of the hankies had patterns in which Paris figured prominently.
As I rolled the scarf up and put it back in the shoebox I have now designated for these items, I felt myself smiling the entire time. Suddenly I realize exactly what this process was about. It was about being mindful of the things that surround us. Some people will certainly go through this process and find a lot more items in the collections that bring them back kind of joy. I realize (and I’m not terribly surprised) that a lot of my acquisitions only brought me joy when I was acquiring them.
The donation bags are filling up, and I’m going to try to hold onto that feeling of joy so I can summon some of it when I’m next to tempted to add to the collection of things in our house.
Under the heading of “she’s kind of funny girl”, I decided to blow sunshine up on Etsy.
And there is a funny thing about my new mantra. Each time I feel frustrated or down, it gets easier and easier to start blowing sunshine into my life. It appears to be pretty good source of renewable energy so far. I liked that the place that prints these T-shirts offers a few colors. i’m thinking of ordering the blue one first and using as armor when I do tech-support.
We had stayed over night near Dartmouth-Hitchcock hospital for medical and weather-related reasons, and the roads to the highway were still icey enough to keep me from enjoying the views, so Thing1 and I talked about his auto-immune disorder and how he will handle these emergencies next year when he’s on his own and about his upcoming college decisions.
I was about to take a slower road but Thing1 gave an annoyed snort.
“Can’t we take 91? If we get back any later, I’ll miss work, and I already missed my midterm.”
I was a bit surprised that he would want to work when I knew he was feeling shaky but decided we’d have that argument when we got home. He was not about to let it go, however, and, after expressing an unwillingness to ruin a perfect attendance record at work for weather or illness, he talked me into letting him go.
I got on the next ramp for 91 South. I was not sure that he had the energy, but still I told him, “I could not be prouder of you if you had gotten into Harvard.”
“I didn’t apply to Harvard, Mom.”
The sardonic tone always gets my eyes to roll to the heavens which is how I was unexpectedly fully able to take in the winter fantasy that flanked us on both sides of the highway. After the last week of worry, it was almost as lovely a happy straw to grasp as the realization that my sick boy still had enough energy and sense of humor to be a smart ass (I don’t know where he gets it).
It was a sunny six degrees by the time I got Thing2 to the school door, and, after a weekend of sub- sub-zero temps, the sky was so gloriously blue that I had to stop myself from blurted out how much it felt like spring. Knowing the mention of the five-letter S word would scare it off like showing a rodent its shadow in February, I silently ran my errands, making mental paintings of the trees and the shadows on the still-crisp snow.
Even a text from Thing1 reminding me he needed to practice driving stick (in mom’s car of course) couldn’t dim the feeling that it was as close to a perfect day as anyone could ask for. I’m not religious, but whenever Mother Nature is putting on a show like that, the greeting from Psalms that opened services at my parents’ old church runs through my head:
“This is the day that the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Whether you think a beautiful day was made or just happened, there’s something to be said for the missive to rejoice and be glad for it.
I admit to being a bit of a worrier. I worry about Thing1’s healthcare prospects as he’s starting to leave the nest. I worry about ever being able to retire. I worry about the growing number of displaced people around the world or if we’re moving closer to blowing up the human race with every single day.
I’ve been guilty of not rejoicing for days on end and even contemplating throwing away the rest of my personal collection of days.
My failure to rejoice in the moment — even for just a moment each day — is being rectified. Over the last few months I decided to make a change in my life and go back to school so that, in the long run, I would have more time to work on art and to feel like my life work will make a contribution. I’ve enjoyed school as an adult but as soon as I was immersed in study, I felt as if a fog was clearing.
The world started opening up, and I suddenly started to see the possibilities as well as the dangers. Despite a new mountain of work and all the same worries, I had more energy everyday. Without even realizing it, I was rejoicing.
Even if yesterday had been the last day, not rejoicing in the beauty of sun on the snow would not minimize any current troubles. Acknowledging the gift of that day, however is a recognition that there is always beauty, and worry cannot diminish it, even if it tries to obstruct it sometimes.