It’s April. We’ve had a few days of sunshine just to tease us. Cold and wind have returned. Those who have planted are covering the tender shoots at night. Those of us, myself included, continue waiting.
March was difficult for me as I’ve written before. My kind husband took pity and took me to South Carolina for some genuinely warm temperatures. Never mind that we didn’t see much of the sun. The temperatures were warm in spite of the rain. When the sun did come out it was brilliant. We were able to do bird watching and walk on the beach wearing only light jackets. Flowers were blooming: azaleas, wisteria and jessamine.
Our dog was along. She is a timid sort of creature when facing something new. And she doesn’t like loud noises. We weren’t sure how she would do with the sight and sound of the ocean. She loved it. She ran and ran until she could run no more.
How delightful to experience a weekend of Spring ahead of time!
Not everyone has the privilege to pack up and get away. I have never done it before. I might like to become accustomed to that possibility. Nevertheless I needed to return to ordinary life.
Temperatures were milder when we arrived home. We had a few lovely days of balmy weather. It was wonderful!
However, the weather has changed with unseasonably cold temperatures and high winds. We’ve had nights below freezing. I’ve moved my pansies indoors! As I write this the temperature is 40 degrees F outside with wind chills around 34 degrees. In April! What’s up with that? I had hoped I’d be drinking something cold as I write this. Instead I’m having another cup of hot tea to warm my insides.
I’ve been looking closely though. There are buds on the Redbud tree and the rose bush I thought might be dying has sprouted out all over. Dutchmen’s Breeches have put out a few brave blossoms. Goldfinches are showing themselves. The Mourning Dove coos as the sun sets. I’ve seen House Finches and Purple Finches. I wake to the sound of Cardinal song. A few Robins have been plucking at the ground. I trust we’ll see a few more later.
Perhaps the most interesting sight has been the contest between Bluebirds and Chickadees for territory. We have a bird box which has been up for many years and never used. Last fall we enlarged the opening. Chickadees discovered it. I was enjoying watching them go in and out. Then a pair of Bluebirds arrived. They are gorgeous, dignified beings as opposed to the Chickadee’s darting style. The Bluebirds perched atop the clothesline pole and watched. One approached the box and looked in. Suddenly there was a flutter of wings and scolding. A Chickadee dashed at the Bluebird and drove it off. This has happened several times that I’ve witnessed. We quickly bought another box and put it up.
The Bluebirds have discovered the new box. As of yet they haven’t moved in. The Chickadees continue to use the one they claimed first. It will be interesting to watch the drama. I’ve also spotted a Cowbird pair. The Cowbird lays her egg in a Bluebird nest rather than bother with a nest of her own. Her chick will be larger and crowd out the Bluebird chicks who will die from a lack of the food the Cowbird chick hogs. The Cowbird and the unseasonable cold remind us that nature is not all romance. Neither are we.
We need to beware the Cowbirds who want to take over from the tender, more vulnerable babes that wish to grow inside us. We need to shelter from the cold. We need to keep our tea hot while we wait. Perhaps most importantly we need to watch the tender buds as they wait in readiness to burst forth. It begins ever so slowly, almost imperceptibly.
Where are we finding hope? Where are we budding? Are we able to hang on a little bit longer in trust?
Perhaps this is the time to hang in there with our regular practices even though we cannot see the future growth. Perhaps we don’t see the birds yet. Perhaps we don’t see the buds. Perhaps our regular practice doesn’t feel hopeful. That’s why we have a regular practice. The practice is in service of the growth, even the growth we can’t yet see.
Hang in there. Watch closely. And continue to make your tea and keep up whatever other practice you find meaningful– or at least had found meaningful. The days are longer. Spring is coming. Growth is happening. Nurture trust.