That Promise of Spring…

[Previous Suburban Farmgirl, October 2009 – October 2010]
“The nicest thing about the promise of spring is that sooner or later, she’ll have to keep it.” That’s what I write in a card to my old pal Kathleen every year about this time, between our birthdays – well, every year I remember, but it’s the majority of the past near-thirty.
I don’t even know how our tradition got started. (It’s a quote we picked up somewhere.) But since I live in the South, it’s a promise that’s kept to me before Kathleen, who’s lived in Iowa ever since we met there in college, so I figure she can use the sentiment. I heard Iowa had snow last week!
Over here in North Carolina, this first week of spring, I’ve got daffodils, Lenten roses (below), forsythia, redbud, and flowering trees galore. But it’s my psychology, rather than my weather, that’s really ready to “break into blossom,” as another line of poetry stuck in my head goes.

Sometime before the leaves turn brown again, I’ll be divorced. I’ll have divided household goods and moved households. And I’ll have moved further down a professional transition from writing, editing, and speaking about kids and parenting and more toward other things that interest me, now that my four children are in double-digits. Oh and I just entered a mysterious new decade, to boot.
The full picture is still in bud-stage. But that “promise of spring” is definitely in the air.
Transitions — between was and will be — are hard. (And I’m not just talking about first-week-of-spring snows in Iowa.) They tend to be predated by a long, cold, hibernating season involving way more thinking than doing. And even by the tail end of that period…hey bud, not spring yet! That’s transition. Transitions demand patience. And try patience. You see the light before you feel its full warmth. You run into a “blackberry winter” or two – a cold snap, after the initial spring warmth, that feels like a step backward but (you’re hard pressed to remind yourself) is merely a natural glitch. More patience.
Transitions carry the promise of spring — you can visualize it, almost smell it, almost touch it — but before the new thing actually arrives, you have to content yourself with the frustrating abstraction of it. Think perusing the seed catalogs. Counting the calendar with an eye toward last frosts and your local zone considerations. Maybe buying a new trowel. (Seen those Liberty-print ones at Target from that new collection?!) Marking off that plot of blooms or berries in your mind’s eye. Daring to imagine it. And, being no planter, I’m speaking metaphorically here.

Check out these spring-green willow weeps from this morning’s walk. (Isn’t the fire hydrant, which I didn’t even notice til later, an apt suburban touch?!) Alas my camera batteries went kaput the second I tried to snap an enormous pink saucer magnolia, in full glory. Might try again tomorrow.
Sigh. Must get better at this patience thing. Any tips from those of you in transition…weather-wise or otherwise?

  1. Paula,
    It’s snowing here in NH at the moment, so I know your frustration and impatience while ‘waiting for the buds to bloom’! I’m also no stranger to transitions and change … been going through some myself, and change (even for the better) is always uncomfortable. Where I live in the mountains, spring comes s-l-o-w-l-y, and I find it helps to sometimes change my focus; I try to look for little ever-present miracles, not the long-term ones. This morning, despite the fact that it is damp, bitter and raw, I saw one lone crocus popping up through frozen ground and snow. It was ‘spring in a nutshell’ though everything around it was pretty bleak! Sometimes I have to narrow my ‘canvas’ to see life’s beautiful landscape in miniature. Can’t say I’m always successful with this … sometimes nature’s canvas just looks brown! I like to hike a lot, and sometimes the trails I tread are pretty steep. This time of year, I’m not always in tip-top shape either, and I get pretty tired. What helps me is not looking at how far I have to go, but at the gound that’s right under my feet (it almost looks like level ground from that perspective!). Always good to keep the big goal in mind, but I find that breaking it down into do-able steps helps a lot!
    PS The fire hydrant in your pretty photo was funny! It reminded me of a wedding photo of my husband and I, taken eons ago. It was a great photo, but we never noticed this rusty little fire-engine scooter that had been my husband’s as a little boy … don’t know how or why it was there but sometimes, I guess, we can be ‘too much’ in the moment! Have a wonderful day! Spring IS a’comin’!!

  2. Cindy says:

    Sorry to hear about your pending divorce. It can be a difficult transition for you and the children. Living in the mountains of Colorado we still have alot of snow. I rejoice with ever little brown spot of dirt that shows through and speck of green grass along the side of the road. One thing that fills the time for me is finishing my inside projects. I tell myself that I am will not want to be inside once the nice weather gets here and I better get these projects finished. Kind of like a pending bloom. All the activity is on the inside right now – waiting for the right time to burst open.

  3. Gina Fisher says:

    While on our way back from our small one stoplight town, we were driving down a side dirt road when my little 8 yr old started shouting..STOP MOMMY! So I immediately hit the breaks. She popped out of her seat belt and bolted from the jeep. Next thing I know she is at the window presenting me with the first flowers of spring! The whole street was browns and greens but no flowers, she managed to find the very first patch of flowers for spring. We are in northern Florida and winter has just been holding on strong here. I snipped a little bit of needles off the pine tree by the road and made a nice little arrangement to put on our mantle. With our upcoming move to the top of NY next week, I am hoping these flowers will last me a while…since spring wont be coming again for us very soon!E;O)

  4. bobbie calgaro says:

    Dear Paula,
    Am also enjoying NC spring in Clemmons. But I know what you mean about transitions. Am going through a few of my own right now. We’ll all get through it after all the whole country is going through some pretty hefty transitions right now. Keep plugging girl, it will get better. After all we already have the saucer magnolias, lenten roses (mine are beautiful too),and some early leaves.

  5. SuburbanFarmgirl says:

    Lodge Lady and Cindy, wishing you green! And Gina, you have lots of new to look forward to, good luck! Bobbie, I know you, too, are looking at this Carolina Blue sky today!

  6. Heather Hansen says:

    Oh, well, when I’m needing some patience…hmmm…hard to say. Always pray, although, my dad and I joke "Dear Lord, give us patience and give it to us now 🙂 :). I try to occupy myself with the things that I love and try to share that with others. It helps redirect my focus. Although, I will it admit I do get much joy and satisfaction in seeing someone else smile. It helps bide the time.
    On a more material level, I also will go out for a for coffee..any excuse good, including more patience 🙂
    Again, more thoughtful, I remember that just because things aren’t happening the way I expect or right away, doesn’t mean the answer is no. Just means "not yet". So that helps me when I’m finding myself short on patience 🙂 Thanks for your blog:)

  7. carol branum says:

    Hi! Paula, We have Mud here,and lots of it!A few yellow daffidils are blooming,so their is hope of Spring.and I feel rotton and it is cold today,I have a runny nose,and a sore throat,first one I have had all winter.Ugh!And mud every where!But,I am still fairly in a good mood because I invited 25 ladies to my salon on Sunday that are members of a group named ANNIES PROJECT,it is a group for farm women.The only thing is I have to clean the shop,and now I feel rotton.Hopefully,I will feel better by the weekend.I can,t wait till it warms up,but now I have HOPE!Hang in there Paula,remember what I told ya before…think on bueatiful things!blessed be,Carol Branum,Lamar Mo.

  8. Marilyn Collins says:

    Hi Paula,
    Sorry about your divorce. Hope everything goes smoothly for you and your children. My sisters and I have faithfully read your columns in "Woman’s Day". We are so disapponted when they are not included in each issue. We do not have any children but enjoyed your Momfidence immensely. We feel like you are a friend and we have loved watching your children grow through your stories. Good luck in your new endeavors and hope to still see you in the magazine.

  9. SuburbanFarmgirl says:

    Marilyn, you’re so kind to say so, thanks. Yep they grew up a lot over nine years!

  10. Denise says:

    Hi Paula
    Transitions are difficult, since I too have been there, but I find inspirational books, ones where others have been through tough times and gotten through very helpful and empowering. They help me see that if they can get through their problems, then I too can get through mine. I find prayer and lots of it extremely helpful, doesn’t have to be formal, just talking to Jesus – friend to friend is wonderful. I will pray for you too, it sounds like you have a lot of things winding up and beginning too. Hope this decade is the beginning of many wonderful experiences with loved ones to share it with, both family friends and your blog friends here too. You know we all support you here and are all willing listeners when you need to "talk". It is sad to see some things ending when we envisioned them to last our lifetime. Take little steps, one day at a time with little goals along the way as well as your big one at the end. You are a pro-active type of person so I know you will get through this. Just know that we are here supporting you and cheering you on.
    love hugs, best wishes and prayers for the beginning of a wonderful and that transition time too. Don’t forget that you roots are still growing through this time and when they are big enough your tree will grow big and strong.
    All the best Paula. Have a glass of wine, some chocolate and read a good book (or your blog comments) and welcome in this new phase.

  11. Bonnie says:

    Paula, Transitions can also be blessings in disguise. From reading your Farm Girl blogs I know you are a sensitive, caring woman and mom, but also strong. This can be a new adventure for you and your children. You seem to have a great perspective on life. Enjoy the lovely transition to Spring. As an added note – I have not told you that I was inspired by your granola blog to make my own. Everyone loved it and it’s time to make more.

  12. Marge says:

    Hi Paula! It seems to me that some part of my life is always in transition. I just get settled in one area and think I will have some peace when something else changes and I am in a period of transition again! Some of the transitions are ones I can control. Do I join (or leave) this group? Do I start a new project or learn a new skill? But so many of my transition periods come because of things I have no control over. My health changes; I grow older: a job ends; my family situation changes, etc. I find, if I can take some quiet time each day, it helps me to deal with the changes. For me, prayer and time spent with God are essential to get through the transitions. It is also important to me to realize I am not always in control and to not fight what I can’t control, but try to accept and even enjoy the changes. I pray that things will go well for you–and for all those facing periods of transition during this spring and summer.
    With wishes for sunny days, cool nights and lots of flowers! Marge

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