Our Northern winter keeps coming with record amounts of snowfall and colder days than usual. This year we decided to escape the cold and head south. The morning we left the temperature hovered in the teens with bright sunshine glistening off the frozen ice on the trees. Crossing from Minnesota into Iowa brought us less snow. By southern Missouri we found blooming daffodils, and by northeastern Texas we saw redbud trees in bloom. With each passing state the temperatures were warmer and our smiles were bigger.
We experienced spring thunderstorms with heavy rain, and even a tornado warning. We rode our bikes in warm sunshine and in blustery winds. We sat outside without heavy coats, hats and gloves. We watched the sun set over open water. We reveled in green grass and the flowers and trees. It was a welcome assault to our senses to be surrounded by the colors of spring and the sounds of birds.
Dogwood trees were in full bloom, their blossoms so delicate and bright. We were talking to another cyclist (also from the North) who couldn’t contain her excitement over seeing tulips in bloom. That sent us on a driving trip to Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We spent two hours soaking up the colors of tulip blooms – every color imaginable! We would pinch ourselves and then look at the weather app showing the temps back north in the 20’s and yet another snowfall.
After three weeks we began our journey back home. A cold front had dropped way south out of Canada and we had temperatures below freezing for the journey north. Our winter clothes and coats came back out of the closet and as we drove the season reversed back into late winter. We arrived home with more snow on the ground than when we left, but our minds were filled with the beauty of spring and the knowledge that eventually the warmth will return here too, bringing the colors and sights that we had absorbed on our trip.
Summer has begun its wind-down. The daylight hours are dwindling, the sun is lower in the sky, the leaves are drying, and some of the birds have already begun their journeys elsewhere. Our colors are starting their change to the deep reds and oranges of fall. So I set out in search of a “last” color of summer and found these Lindley’s asters blooming with their final hurrah, valiantly reaching up to the sun’s warmth. With our lowering night-time temperatures they too will soon be fading into fall’s colors.
Slowly our summer season is coming to a close. The hours of sunlight are diminishing each day, the nights are cooler, and the landscape is losing its green lushness.
Walking in a field the other day I noticed the remainders of what had once been blooming dandelions. Their colors were gone and their skeletons stood tall above the other drying vegetation. Here they seemed proud of their intricate structure and proud of having survived the recent winds. There was no way to know how much longer the remaining blossom stems and seed would remain intact – a few hours, a day, a week – and yet they made a statement to me of resilience and beauty.
Our spring is here, and it is lovely! The forsythia bloomed, the red bud trees blossomed out, the lilacs filled the air with their delightful scent, and now the lupine are blooming. I was driving down the road, turned a corner, and there was an embankment filled with lupine. The breeze would catch their upright blooms and they would dance, swaying back and forth. It was as if they too were welcoming the warmth of the sun and the joy of spring.
Here in the north we are still waiting for spring’s arrival. Our skies have been gray, our temperatures have been 10-20 degrees below normal, and we’ve even had continuing frosts and snow. It’s been hard to keep our spirits up thinking that spring will not arrive in April but is holding off until sometime in May.
But there’s a lovely “cure” at the McNeely Conservatory in Como Park and it seems like everyone is making a mental-health trip to the conservatory. Spring is in bloom, with bright and lovely colors – reds, yellows, whites, pinks, and blues – and the scents of these blossoms float in the air. Everyone is smiling, taking photos of the colors with their phones, inhaling deeply, and spending time in the gardens trying to soak up the indoor promise of warmer weather.
Spring will come, although by now it may be fleeting. We may instead jump from winter to summer. But I’m sure we will all welcome the long-anticipated warmer weather and it’s accompanying blossoms and blooms.