The Lie of Spring

March is the month of expectation,
The things we do not know,
The Persons of prognostication
Are coming now.
We try to sham becoming firmness,
But pompous joy
Betrays us, as his first betrothal
Betrays a boy.
– Emily Dickinson

This past weekend I went out into the garden and pruned my three small but mighty rose bushes. You’re not supposed to give roses their spring pruning until the last chance of frost has passed, and I’m usually pretty conservative about this. But on Saturday, it was 60 degrees. The daffodils had popped. The hyacinths are showing their weird alien heads. I went out into the garden in short sleeves and inspected each rose branch, each node, taking my time and enjoying the sunshine on bare skin.


We haven’t had a particularly trying winter around here (sorry, Polar Vortex!), but the arrival of spring excites me all the same. Every spring, I get antsy and ambitious. I make Big Plans, I make Big Lists. There’s a reason they call it “spring fever” — you definitely get the urge to throw open the windows and dust the darkest nooks and de-clutter the deepest crannies. After stagnant winter, anything feels possible. You will reenergize your life, you will re-invent, you will be the organized, inspiring and inspired person you always knew you could be.

But the weeks move on, and nothing on that list has been checked off. In fact, things keep piling up. Spring is chirping outside every window — but has the cleaning started? Have the Grand Plans been hatched? Somehow every year I forget one essential truth: the coming of spring does not halt the rest of life. Our obligations, our daily responsibilities, they march on.

And you think, well ok, next weekend. Next weekend I’ll get that pruning done. Next weekend I’ll tackle that file cabinet. But in the back of your head lurks the voice that never leaves, the one who hisses, “You should be editing. You should be plotting revisions. You should be doing research and rewriting sentences and brainstorming titles.

You realize you can’t do it all. Some things have to fall by the wayside — you’ll have to prioritize. But prioritize what? Obviously, The Book should get ALL your attention — except the sun! The sun is out there, it has arrived, it’s warming the hard earth that you’ve been staring at all winter, the earth that you’ve been dreaming of digging and planting and making beautiful. The sun is there, begging for windows to be thrown open, for dust to be shaken out, for the doldrums of life to step aside so SPRING can have your full and undivided attention.

Spring lures you in with a sense of purpose, a sense of resolve — and then you realize, spring is no different from all the others. The first daffodil doesn’t magically halt time, allowing you to get everything done. The passage of time moves on — it was that passing that brought spring in the first place. After spring comes summer, and summer comes fall. And then we’re back at winter again, waiting with bated breath for that first daffodil.

I should bolt the windows, lock the doors, ignore spring’s arrival. I should put my nose in my book and focus all my concentration there. But then the whiff of hyacinth will come in through my front door, and the promise of spring will fool me once again.

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