Dan and I skimmed through some photos from the dark heart of winter recently and found this: Dan knee-deep in powder,carrying a snow-blind, wincing child whose snow pants were riding up, exposing ghostly skin to the bitter air.
Perhaps this is simply a case for actually purchasing clothes for our children, rather than relying on ill-fitting
hand-me-downs. But, viewing this, we both exhaled, grasping a deeper meaning: We survived.
I spent the first half of April with a dumb smile on my face, serotonin levels swelling like spring lilac buds, while
my kids performed their own devotional, interpretive dance to the high-rising sun. I may have pointed out daily, while
wandering around the yard jacket-less and dazed: Look! The snow is melting!" as if climate change had wreaked some
unimaginable new consequence.
We've since found a lost civilization in our melted yard: sandbox, swing set, mini trampoline. I feel like an
archaeologist upon making an exciting discovery: This may have been a place where children played!"
Each day brings a milestone of the season. The lemon-yellow goldfinches reappeared at our feeders the same day Col, 5,spotted the first dandelion. We took down our construction-paper snowflakes and Col immediately crayoned new spring
canvases, including one with goldfinches and chickens romping under the moon and stars, which he uses to test if anyone
is really paying attention (birds aren't nocturnal,
in case you weren't really paying attention, either). Every few days, the green grass electrifies in color.
Our chard and parsley plants have percolated up through the soil, shrugging off 5 feet of snow like what winter?"
Our days are a vortex of outside time in our newly rediscovered yard. I cheerfully pull the few weeds winking up
through the soil while the kids scamper around, losing pieces of clothing as they roam their territory. I am amazed at
how quickly they've acclimated to the season.
Col and Rose are like disciples of the Dalai Lama in their ability to live in the moment, but I pause frequently under
the peach tree as the home movie Spring: Last Year" unreels in my mind. The kids have leaped such developmental
galaxies in one year that they're practically architects of their own lives now - digging, plotting, collecting,swinging - while I'm free to engage in the unexpected pleasure of hanging laundry on the line.
Last week, we left home on foot with no particular plans, picking up neighborhood kids like burrs on a dog's tail. Soon
I was tending to a pack of mixed-aged kids. It felt so much like my own childhood days: kids vaguely supervised as they
bounced from yard to yard. But the generic neighborhood mother - you know the one with frumpy mom-hair, lurking in the
backdrop of life, here simply to provide snacks and Band-Aids - that's now me!
But if the hat - or hair - fits, I'll wear it, especially in the fleeting, gorgeous days of spring.
Rachel Turiel's column runs the first and third Sunday. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out her blog on raising children, chickens and backyard food at "http://6512andgrowing.wordpress.com">6512andgrowing.wordpress.com.