Not Frail, but Stubborn
There are days in April when the sky stands over you and empties herself of winter. Sleet, rain, hail, gusts of ungodly wind. All of it comes out in bursts and burps, uncontrollable and inelegant. It’s like Mother Earth is holding the sky’s hair and saying soothingly, ‘get it out all out’, while we duck for cover down here, wondering when the seasons will tire of their trickery – they always do – and winter will be shaken off for once and for all, like a tedious virus.
Driving the other day, I got caught in a bubble of hard rain, flying sideways at the windscreen, giving way to sleet as the wind buffeted the car. It was over as quickly as it began. The sky, white and cold, fell momentarily silent while the wind skulked off to gather its strength. It returned, later, with hail, quick and sharp. I always worry about the new growth, the tiny bits of green that cling to trees and shrubs, to the neat and naked boxes of twigs that let you see houses hidden from sight May through October – as if April’s cruel streak might strip them off the branches and throw us back into those awful grey months. But they hang on for dear life. It’s their time now, no matter what the sky throws at them and those stubby little leaves and buds give me hope.
These days, these bad-tempered days, they cannot last now. In December, in January, in February, they can and they do, time dragging interminably, monotonously. But not now. The birds are too loud, the light lingers too long, the grass has woken up. The new growth on fruit trees and roses is tougher, shorter, closer to the stem, more determined. The green cannot be bullied in April, like it can in October.
I make the mistake, often I think, of seeing spring as frail, as not enough to stand up to winter whose rage seems to gather a sense of urgency as the months wear on and its annual reign winds to a close. The dazzling days in March, that always hold such promise, and the light of April, with its nesting birds and pink blossoms – it has always seemed as if the slightest stamp of winter’s foot could make it all collapse in on itself. Spring, I felt, was never able to stand up for herself and make the cold, white, belligerent skies go away for good.
That isn’t true, of course, and I have been wrong all these years of living in a corner of a hemisphere that takes seasons seriously. Spring isn’t frail at all. After a weekend during which the sky gave it all she had, egged on by a winter reluctant to relinquish, ranting and retching … the birds are louder than ever. The grass needs cutting, the plum still has all of its purple leaves, the rose bushes are still dotted with the brightest green. The newness of spring is relentless, waving at a brilliant sun.
The buds, the baby birds, the blossoms, spring’s children – they are immovable now. I need never have worried. There is nothing more stubborn than a mother pushing her child forward, wanting it to have its moment in the sun.