February 18, 2011

“Wherefore O, Summer Day”

“The Bee is not Afraidby Emily Dickenson

T. S. Eliot wrote that April was the cruelest month, (“The Waste Land”) but sometimes, on a day like today, when the sun shines but provides little warmth and the ground is barren and damp, I think February is the guiltier of the two. On such days, despite the calendar, my thoughts turn to spring. What’s more, during my walk through the park yesterday, I noted an ornamental cheery tree had not only broken into blossom but some of its petals were already falling, leaving the bare branches to shiver in the winter wind. I’ve no idea why the tree brought forth its blooms so early. Elsewhere in the park only the evergreens show color. 


Still, I had to admire the tree for putting on a brave show while the rest of its brethren remain dormant. And like a kindred spirit I, too, wanted to shout I’d had enough of winter’s rule. But I lacked the tree’s courage. I was unwilling to shed my winter overcoat, my knitted cap and mittens. The calendar doesn’t lie.  In February, bursts of winter sun are likely to be followed by weeks of cold, relentless rain. Having shed its blossoms too soon, the cheery tree will stand unprotected against what remains of the season’s blasts. But I am grateful to this harbinger of spring. It is a promise of warmer days, of bees and picnics and children running barefoot on the grass. And so, I pull out my gardening books and flower catalogs indifferent to the rain tapping at my windows.  

Nature gives me confidence that in no one’s life does winter last forever.