It’s Happening



Difficult as it is to believe, Spring is happening. Again.

A fun thing to do for Spring Break: drag yourself onto a plane very early on a dark chilly morning. Wear leggings, boots, and many sleeves. Travel to a place where winter really doesn’t care to let go, where it’s mean enough to give its citizens crocuses, daffodil buds, seventy degrees, and then another snowstorm.

Come home to find yourself thoroughly overdressed and envious of the people crowding the airport in sensible shorts and T-shirts. Resolve to be patient with the twelve trillion visitors who will use up the city’s entire bandwidth and beer supply for the duration of SxSW.

When you sort the laundry, remember to keep some sleeves and leggings available as talismans against a return to winter.

Despite your eagerness to get out and get your hands dirty, be glad that it’s raining. Nothing to do in the yard but squoosh around in rain boots, surveying the last frost’s damage and hoping for the best. Be pleasantly surprised: where just a few days ago there was nothing but collections of dead leaves, colors are emerging.


The Texas Mountain Laurel at the end of the driveway lost a number of buds to frost, but not all of them, you are happy to discover. Lean in for a whiff of that grape soda smell.


Exclaim to your spouse at least once an hour about the miracle outside the kitchen door: the young Monterrey Oak has survived the winter and is rolling out new leaves so quickly you can almost watch them unfurl. Express amazement at the birds who land on the branches en route to the feeder. Feel pretty sure that you have discovered something revolutionary: people can in fact plant trees.


Meanwhile, it seems like all the trees are busy. The “green haze” arrived while you were away, and in the front yard the Live Oak has dropped ten billion leaves in preparation for this year’s ten billion.


The sunlight says “Spring:” pale yellow, not hot yet, finding its way through branches that are not fully leafed out. Grasses are new, brilliant.

In the sidewalk garden, masses of greenery promise a bumper crop of pink Mexican primroses. Gape hopefully at tiny new plants that may or may not be poppies. Try not to stare. Flowers probably resent it. Welcome the Blackfoot Daisies back.


Even though the ribbony flowers of the Queen’s Tears are your favorite part, don’t forget to give a nod to a bromeliad that knows how to make pink foliage too.


Find yourself so cheered by the prospect of Spring that you are unfazed to find the Desert Mallow has been pounded onto its side by two days’ showers; today it spills over the curb in a profusion of silvery leaves and orange bells.


Grapple with your craving for more raised beds in the back yard. Just because everybody else in the world is building beds, having soil delivered, and preparing for a bounty of vegetables and fruit, it doesn’t mean you can grow food. Do not be tempted by the thought of homegrown tomatoes AGAIN. Remember that farmers need to earn a living too.

It seemed like Spring in Connecticut was a gradual thing, or maybe all of life seems slow when you’re young. Here, once again it seems that by the time you walk from one end of the yard to the other and back, revolutions have taken place. A cluster of leaves suddenly promises a flower for the Easter season.


The Nelly Stevens holly outside the kitchen window, excited after your radical cutback, is laden with tiny flowers and set into apparent motion by hundreds of honeybees. It is loud enough that you can hear it inside the house.


When you stand to watch, bees fly off in all four directions, visible for one second after their departure and then gone. Consider recruiting volunteers to watch in relays until you trace some bees to their hive.

Go up and down the sidewalk one more time. While your back was turned, the purple prickly pear have been busy.


Spring happens fast around here. As soon as the last cold rain stops falling, the sun sets life in motion as if there wasn’t a second to waste. Maybe there isn’t.

On a day too beautiful to even think about going indoors, take another walk around the yard. Discover at last the color of those bearded irises a friend gave you two years ago. It’s been a long wait.


So worth it.

One thought on “It’s Happening

  1. Dan Hancock says:

    My new 5′ replacement for the scraggly boxwood bush that was in a planter in front of my house is also a Nelly Stevens holly. Before I left Baltimore on April 15, it was full of clusters of buds, but no blooms.
    The guy at the garden center said that it would have few if any red berries; however it makes up for that lack with the usual small thorns on each leaf. I trust that my neighbor will keep it watered until I return home.

Leave a Reply