The patience of a crocus

If you’ve seen my “About Me” page or spent any time around me, you already know I love to garden. I love the feel and smell of dirt. I love the sore muscles derived from a day of tilling, planting, pruning, and raking. I love the planning, watering, and nurturing of shrubs, flowers, and vegetables. I love the tastes and smells of freshness that can never be found in a produce department. I love witnessing the springtime rebirth of my yard as the weather warms and days grow long. Yep, gardening has long nourished my soul.

This past weekend, I worked hard preparing the yard for its renewal. I raked up the blanket of fallen leaves. I yanked away the withered vines from last fall’s squash crop. I pruned roses and shrubs. I checked garden fencing and purchased manure. I felt the sun warm my back and the songs of birds fill my ears. I celebrated with my younger daughter when our 10 cent goldfish was found still alive in the freshly cleaned pond. I smiled at the 3 yellow crocus huddled in the corner of the yard and listened as my daughter shared with me the order of their arrival.

I love the cheerful nature of the crocus flower. It stands out against the back drop of fading winter browns, smiling brightly at the careful and not so careful observer. So small, yet so bold it appears before the mighty tulip or the graceful buttercup of a daffodil. It fearlessly  blossoms while the threat of snow still looms. It shouts a cheery hello to the trees not yet leafed out. It is a simple flower, captivating in its beauty. Without need for a calendar, it emerges when the ground thaws. Its tiny stature announces the arrival of spring, the season of renewal.

This morning, I awoke feeling agitated, not angry, not upset, just agitated. My skin feels too tight. My fingers tap too hard at the keyboard. There is a river of discontent rushing beneath the surface of my skin. I feel unsettled as I struggle to focus my thoughts and quiet the chaos in my mind. I grimace at the inventory of chores that await me, though I know it is not chores that disquiet me. Life has had its share of upheavals recently, but even those aren’t what gnaw at me. Truthfully, I don’t know what it is, but I do know I don’t like feelings of unease and confusion. Answers offer me peace, but answers elude me. I stare out my office window searching the snow-covered mountains for peace.  I watch the horses graze in the field of the neighbor’s farm. Visions of tranquility and, still, my skin crawls. I push away from my desk… I shake my hands… I flip through  pages of a book without seeing the words. I grow impatient with myself. My pattern is to push through feelings of restlessness, not sit with them. I want to isolate what stirs within me so I can fix it, so I can release it and return to my work. I fail and resume my stare out the window.

My eyes scan the freshly turned earth below my second story window. I see the timbers laying in wait for placement. A lattice made from old sunflower stalks waits for the peas to vine up its poles. A bird perches atop an empty feeder in anticipation. Bird baths stand dry. Trees sway gently in the wind waiting for the young buds to mature into leaves and new branches. The tops of the tulip and daffodil leaves emerge bit by bit as their flowers develop in the darkness beneath. I listen to the water trickling into the pond and the call of a hawk.  Pots have been gathered on the potting table. I hear the rooster crow, a tractor roar and watch a large cow and calf wander out to graze. I let my eyes rest upon the three bright yellow crocus tucked beyond the swing set. There is no urgency in the small flower, no desire to push through the discomfort of another bloom. I breathe in the patience I am surrounded by and release my agitation. 

As my eyes survey the yard, it occurs to me that springtime is more than just a season of rebirth; it is a season of transition. It is that gentle time that moves us gradually from the harshness of winter to the scorching days of summer. Dormant trees slowly bud new growth. Faithful perennials awaken from their slumber as bulbs burst forth from the leaf covered earth. Freshly tilled gardens are prepared for a new assortment of vegetable seeds. Snow can turn to rain and back to snow on a single day.  The cobwebs of winter’s neglect are swept from patios and fresh air blows in through opened windows. Wardrobes transition from sweaters to summer tees, birds begin their nests, and weekends usually include at least one trip to Lowes. Baseball bats and soccer balls return to the fields as children grow restless with school routines. The lazy days of summer are in sight. And still, springtime refuses to be rushed.

From the quiet of winter, new beginnings emerge, but nature does not rush new growth. It patiently waits as the days turn longer and the ground softens. Each plant and creature moves to individual rhythm of transition. Though the crocus flowers early, the Columbine waits for warmer days to bloom. It does not push to flower sooner, impatient with the weather. And, every gardener knows the consequences of sowing seeds before the planting season has arrived. Growth is a process that cannot and should not be rushed, regardless of its discomfort.

When feelings of discontent stir within me, I usually hurry to settle the waters. As I look around my yard, I see no signs of the rushing I feel within myself. I see ease, a willingness to just be in a period of unsettled transition. The early spring bulbs, the budding trees, the empty vegetable garden all mirror this chapter in my life. The bulbs, forever consistent in my garden, share only a brief season with me; the trees prepare to branch off in new directions; and a newly turned vegetable garden sits replete with possibility in its emptiness. Each a special part of my garden, and each in a state of transition. Just as I am.

As I come to the end of this writing, I have found peace. I still don’t know what agitated me this morning, but I trust I will have the information I need when it is time for me to act upon it. For now, I will not force, nor rush. I will just be. In my garden I have a plaque that reads, “In my garden, the answers come.” Very often that is where my answers do come. Today, I learned a lot from a crocus.

Happy springtime, everyone!

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