Spring in the upper Midwest is a roller coaster ride – sun and warmth one day followed by cold winds and snow the next. We have our ups and downs. But we also know that spring, and eventually summer, will prevail. Until then we surround ourselves with the hopes and colors of springtime.
I bought some tulips at the store recently to help brighten the day. Their pale colors were lovely and they reminded me of the delicateness of spring with a whisper of pale pink throughout the petals. The blooms were tight when I first brought them home, but they slowly opened up. As they got larger their weight caused them to bend forward, sometimes falling one against another. The lightness and support of these two tulips struck me as the definition of softness.
With a lightness in my step and a smile on my face, I stepped out into 48 degrees and sunshine yesterday afternoon for a walk. The sun was warm and it seemed that everyone was outside taking advantage of the lovely weather. My thoughts turned to spring and the hope of flowers and blooming trees. Tulips seem to be one of those “perfect” symbols of springtime, turning their blooms up towards the sun.
This morning I woke up to snow. Sometimes it was coming down quite heavily. My brightness of yesterday and hope for spring was certainly dimmed. But today is still February, and this snow will probably repeat again before the season turns all the way to spring. I shoveled the heavy wet snow, turned my face to the sun that had broken through the clouds, and tried to imagine the green grass and the blooming trees and tulips.
Springtime – a season of change, a season of hope, and a season of color. I’ve always looked forward to spring and its warmth and beauty. In Minnesota spring seems to condense and then open up all in a small time period. It’s as if you can literally watch the grass become green and the leaves pop out from the buds on the trees. Everything draws deep into the color palettes as Mother Nature wakes up from winter. One of my favorite flowers are tulips with all their styles and hues, colors and textures. They are the precursor to the abundance of late spring and summer and all the rich colors that follow. On a dreary day they can be the one bright spot in the garden. And on a sunny day they glow as their colors are set off by the warmth and brilliance of the sun.
The last few weeks have brought a world of differences to many of us — a new physical view from the inside looking out; a new vocabulary that includes medical terms of pandemics, viruses, curves, ventilators, and COVID-19; an appreciation for things that previously we’d taken for granted; and a feeling that the world’s turned upside down. With the barrage of news and seemingly constant updates it’s hard to look too far forward. Like many, I’m trying to take things one day at a time. Today the sun is shining and there are signs of spring outside my windows. The birds are migrating back into our area and their calling hangs in the air. There are people walking in the neighborhood and soaking up the sun’s warmth. There’s a young girl that’s riding her small bike next to her dad who is running; they’re chatting and singing as they go by. Sometime ahead the tulips will be blooming here in Minnesota. Somewhere ahead, the struggling and the uncertainty we’re dealing with now will be behind us. Somewhere ahead I’m hoping we will have learned lessons from this time; perhaps we’ll appreciate the beauty all around us – in nature, in family, and the people we interact with. And somewhere ahead I’m hoping our world will no longer seem to be upside down, but instead will be more kind.
Our landscape has been white for so very long that a bright burst of yellow is a true signal of spring. I spent some time at the McNeely Conservatory where it is spring, under glass. Yellow and red tulips, ranunculus, crocus, and daffodils are wonderful (and needed) reminders of the season of spring. These yellow tulips were set off by the blue reflection of the sky in the water behind them. Soon enough we will have spring outside too, and not need to go inside to experience it.