The second post I ever submitted on Brand of Make Believe was entitled "Dandelions Gone". It spoke of the peculiar dread some of us feel at the coming of Winter (that day was November 18th). But it spoke with the deepest urgency of an April morning when after returning from the Farmers Market one gloriously rainy spring morning, I fell to my knees in my front yard and saw so many things; and of course, intimations of the garden I wanted to plant. I'll never forget that morning, and I think the reason I like "Dandelions Gone" so much, is that for years the sight of the "weeds" of our urban lawns, especially violets and dandelions, have whispered a little to the man in me, who himself has been something of a weed, sometimes bright green despite a drought, sometimes growing, right from a crack in a rock. Sometimes, could it be, being "picked on". It's strange, but for years when spring would come around I would think of the spring of 1997 when I had a bunch of days confined to taking care a friend of a friend who had no-one else to turn to. So I helped as best I could for four days in the basement of this barely legal elderly home. In many ways I had a nice time. My friends Grandmother was said to have been a real jerk, but her eyes really twinkled when I helped her in and out of bed and otherwise passed whatever non-verbal information we pass under the circumstances. By the end of the time however, I had the misfortune of looking out a window and seeing that beautiful gray color and shocking green of spring grass, and it filled me with a desire to go home and be in my yard and plant some impatiens. So the next day I had my chance, and after digging a garden outside my back porch for an hour, I found myself sitting and reading the novel by Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow, looking up from time to time at the knee like roots of the deciduous trees, seemingly cradling from the ground bouquets of dandelions and violets. God, they looked so unremittingly beautiful.
When I wrote Dandelions Gone, I had a month and twelve days till the season I am in right now, winter, would begin. I could see the stations of the cross into deep winter, the holidays, and it all somehow just didn't fit what seemed like so recent a celebration: Autumns sensual divinity. Something I love about that entry is just how sad I know that guy was to say goodbye to his garden, and the sunshine on his shoulder.
You know, Spring isn't most people's favorite season. Fall is. But Spring, since I became an adult, responsible entirely for my own feelings and capacities, has been my favorite season by far for over fifteen years. According to the clock on my computer, it will be Spring in one hour and six minutes. I don't think I have ever dwelt before on the last hour of winter. Autumn is something I'd be more likely to worry or dwell on. But here I am.
"That morning, on my wet knees in the rain, my body felt huge and the yard seemed an immense place of endless and beautiful complexity. And two weeks ago the enzymatic fire that began as the average temperature reached the middle sixties Farenheight in Spring, sizzled and hissed to a head of steam from the vent pipes of my neighbors roof. The warm, placental, resiliency of the warm season was over."
It always comes as something of a shock to realize that the mean temperatures and hours of daylight in Spring and Fall are necessarily complimentary. That only goes to show how gloriously deep the primal experiences of our ancestors are within us even today. In Autumn we prepare, and feast, and string up perhaps lights a factor of three more than during other seasons, a giant candy colored night light of a scarecrow to stand sentry to the encroaching darkness. But Spring?
All about me in this town of transience and youth people can hardly keep their clothes on. And the most vulnerable of everything reaches up from the darkness of winter, to break into the richness and warmth of the growing sun. Most of the perennials gladly will lose their very first embryonic efforts to a couple of late frosts, just to feel their juices flowing, and count themselves in for another long season.
So in my yard, their is a thick coating of wood chip mulch, a green, uncomposted killer to all but the clover and legumes who can fix the nitrogen the carbon rich wood has sequestered away from the soil in its decay. But there is one other little wizard of a weed that for reasons I can't imagine, manages despite proven lack of an ability to fix nitrogen, and despite being a green plant (fast growing one at that) it grows fast and hard, and has been growing for a few weeks now. In forty-five minutes is the first day of Spring, but for nearly a month I have enjoyed salads of the symbol I chose to regard as perhaps the saddest thing to succumb to the cold. For when the dandelions gone, what about me?
My friends.... Happy Spring!