If spring comes early, what are we to do?
The soft, nearly snowless winter was shortened by the arrival of an early spring. Winter is the season for internal reflection, going within. What was the message, I wondered, of a winter that was neither as cold nor as weather-bound as we’ve come to expect? And what to make of a spring that came on so early, with the flowers and foliage a full six weeks ahead of schedule? If spring is the time of new beginnings, but we didn’t have time to lie fallow and let those seedlings ripen, what happens exactly? How do we move forward?
From where I sit, I can see the snap peas we planted at the end of March already half-way up the chicken wire I staked into place for them. There are lettuces out in the garden, too, and broccoli rappini, and weeds. The weeds need some attention and the lettuce rows want thinning. Another week will end the last threat of frost, something that seems foreign on this nearly 80 degree day, and we’ll set out tomato plants for Mother’s Day.
The peas feel like a triumph. It was Sunday afternoon and my daughter, Nine, my visiting friend Cat, and I had a window for planting. With a sinking heart I read the directions on the back of the seed packet—the peas were to be soaked for twenty-four hours before planting. Did I know this about peas? Cat did and assured me she always soaks her peas. I thought about it and shrugged—if we were to soak them, the likelihood was they would not get planted twenty-four hours later, a time frame that would fall squarely in the realities of Monday. So we planted the hard, dry seeds in a nice straight row, several inches apart, covered them lightly, and waited.
The peas germinated evenly in spite of not being soaked and there they are, right on schedule, over a foot high, sending their tendrils to cling to the wire and unfurling their leaves to the sun. They have out-paced the weeds and there’s a promise that we’ll be snacking on sweet crunchy pods right around Memorial Day.
I could, but likely won’t, add more nutrients to their soil or worry that without soaking they won’t produce so large a crop. I will, but I’m not sure when, do my best to keep the weeds at bay and thin the lettuce into baby lettuce salads. I will absolutely plant tomatoes, because tomato-planting day is Mother’s Day and that’s a day when I get to play in the dirt if I want to.
Mother Nature doesn’t hurry, even when springtime arrives early. I’d like to explain this to Nine’s teacher who calls to apologize. The day before she had kept the fourth-grade girls in from the first few minutes of recess to inform them they needed to start wearing bras. Nine came right home and told me we had to go shopping, like it was another math or geometry assignment. She and I already had a bra policy—we would shop for bras when she wanted to or when I felt we must, whichever came first—and her teacher’s interference required a new round of discussion and understanding and allegiance on the issue between Nine and me. The next morning I sent the principal an email complaint, netting the teacher’s phone-call mea culpa. There are some discussions, she agreed, best left for daughters to have with their mothers.
Apology accepted, my Sweet Pea assured she can go braless with impunity for the foreseeable future, the top down on my car for another 80-degree day, I still feel a little like my peas, rushed into the ground without marinating first. But even if my rhododendron, a late May/early June flower usually, is bright with blooms right now, I have watched it go from bare branches to leaflets and flower buds to rich foliage and pink blooms: it hasn’t skipped any steps along the way. So maybe, like the peas, we didn’t need to soak this year. Instead, we can reach out those tendrils, hold on to what’s available, leave the weeds behind, and spring up toward the summer sun.
Not just any full moon, but a super moon tonight, the largest full moon we’ll have all year. And not just that, but the week before Mother’s Day—celebrate your mom, celebrate your own nurturing nature, celebrate Mother Earth; it’s all good. love, Rxo