My Dad was a farmer on the western plains of Oklahoma where I grew up. Until he died at 81, every day, in every season, he was out in the fields with wheat to plant in the fall and harvest in the summer; cotton to plant in the spring and harvest in the fall. There were assorted other plantings: black eyed peas to replenish the soil; milo, hay, vegetable gardens and especially his tomatoes that had the sweet taste of being fresh grown, of the soil. Then, we measured time on the farm by the cycles that governed the work—daylight and dark, cold and hot, wet and dry, as surely as any calendar or clock.
I grew up and my own profession kept me in town and indoors far removed from those cycles and fields until now when in my 50’s I seem to be returning. Last week I was out in my garden clearing away the detritus from the last growing season to make way for new plantings this year. It has been unusually cold this winter in Arkansas; in fact, only a few days before I ventured out, it had been in the lower “30’s” in the day and much colder at night. I was not at all expecting to find anything making its way to the light as of yet, but I was very wrong. Clearing away the dead leaves, stems and seed pods much to my surprise, there just below the surface of the ground were the first tender shoots and sprouts of spring. Lavender newly planted last year was returning. Phlox stems with leaves were already pushing their way up; and my roses were already showing leaves on their bare stems. In another week or two the revival will be obvious, but now it is hidden there just below the ground surface and on those skinny, bare branches. On my knees in the cold dirt, I had to smile because it dawned upon me that this is what I believe in and I’ve known it all along.
In the long winter nights from December on, those long dark nights of heart and nature; in the gray of February days that are so short and cold, there seems to be little to no hope. It is then, miracle and wonder, that spring comes to the land and to our spirits and the world starts over again. One more time. Despite us. I believe in renewal. I believe in Spring.
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