March 23, 2012
What does it say about the world when spring arrives in winter? On the evening of March 18th, 2012, before closing my bedroom shades, I glanced out the window and all the bushes, shrubs and trees were brown and bare. On the morning of March 19th, 2012, I opened the shades and saw little blobs of yellow, tiny buds on the forsythia bush. Four days later they were no longer buds, but flowers.
We lived in Boston for two years before moving to Minnesota. After listening to my friends describe Minnesota winters as lasting from October to May and being bitterly cold, I bought an army issue winter coat. (I never wore it because it was too heavy, everything is heated in the winter and it does not snow in July).
They were right about winter lasting a long time. The first year I lived in Minnesota, I remember writing to my family in South Africa in great excitement that the trees were budding. Most years this may occur in late March to the middle of April.
Every spring when I walk at the Arboretum, I sigh over the beauty of the magnolia flowers and, in the summer, over the large leaves, so last year we planted a small magnolia tree. The very word “magnolia” evokes southern belles (with magnolia blossoms in their hair), not a suburban garden in the northern growing area. This morning, I took a walk around my garden and the magnolia had burst forth with a fistful of white buds, blooming amongst the faded gold of the prairie grasses.
I live in a garden of trees, bushes, flowers and prairie grasses. My summer garden is colored green, yellow, pink and purple. My fall garden is gold, red and yellow. My winter garden is brown against white. My spring garden starts out like winter, slowly turning green and then moving into summer colors.
Somehow this spring forgot to be slow. We went from a mere three snowstorms, to winter brown, to 70-degree summer temperatures in early March. Our hanging chairs are on the screen porch where we sit and read and sip iced tea. Last weekend, I washed the screens and they are all on the windows, which I open every morning. Like the song says, “June is busting out all over” but it is only March.
What does it say about the world when spring arrives in winter? Some may say it is global warming. But then how can the bitterly cold, snowy winter of Europe be explained? Others say it is merely the natural order of things. But then how can the vicious tornadoes, earthquakes and excessive heat be explained?
I don’t have the answer. I don’t think anyone does. I will count this early spring as a blessing and enjoy the yellow forsythia branches and the shell white magnolia flowers. I will put them in my memory bank for next winter, which may not end until summer.