Spring Respite for The Green Study

A canstockphoto5109847miracle finally happened in Minnesota. Spring arrived. I can’t focus. I spent time in the dirt yesterday. I scoped out my tulips, crocuses (crocii?) and daffodils, uncovered, after a long winter’s rest. It’s a week of endings and beginnings for me and as much as I think I should write or at least should want to write, I don’t. I want dirt under my nails, mud on my boots, stray leaves and grass in my hair. I want to stand up, straightening sore knees and legs after laboring over a plot of soil. I want to smell when the rain is coming and admire, once again, the hardiness and resilience of nature.

canstockphoto2064868A Northern Flicker captured my attention for the good part of an hour on Saturday. They’re the only woodpecker that walks along the ground to find food, hopping back and forth between ground and surrounding trees. Rabbits graze in the yard, delighted by the salad bar now revealed. Gnawed bushes and shrubs show evidence that they did what they needed to do to survive the deep snows.

canstockphoto6826957Black-capped chickadees are flitting in and out of the dried grape vines and robins are hopping about, gathering up their body weight in grass for nests in progress. Mallards are squawking loudly when neighborhood cats are in the proximity. The ducks have picked a nesting site near the drainage creek that has formed at the bottom of the yard.

It’s been too long. It’s taken us a few days to catch on that winter is gone. Pale and mole-like, people come outside, shading their eyes against the brilliant sunlight. We see neighbors that we haven’t seen in months. Everyone is a little pudgier. The melted snow has left vestiges of salt and sand everywhere. Children wobble haphazardly on bikes – a momentary lapse in memory. An old man roars by on a motorcycle, a declaration of resilience. He made it through another winter.

People have thrown themselves into a flurry of activity – yard work, roof fixing, car washing. They’ve spent months using their labor capital for shoveling and making vehicles run, walking recalcitrant dogs, who lifted paws in protestation of the bitter cold. The pent up energy needs to run its course before hammocks and lemonade and a need for shade.

I am taking the week off to take it all in. I can hardly make myself sit still or be in front of the computer. My winter-addled mind drags me out into the sunshine, unable to stay inside one minute longer. Spinach and green bean seeds to sow, patches of garden to till, soil samples to send…this is the world I dreamed of in January, while flipping morosely through my seed catalog. It’s finally here and I’m going outside to reacquaint myself with the light. Keep well, my friends.

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Renewal in 10 Minutes or Less

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Renewal, the act of not just enduring, but embracing life sometimes takes the long and winding road. Sometimes it takes less than 10 minutes.

I woke up this morning at the farthest point from any sense of renewal. I’m injured, with a possible rotator cuff tear from Pilates/taekwondo/middle age. I woke up in tears last night due to the pain. I’m grumpy. Less sleep and more Monday do that to me. And I’m overwhelmed. The snow is melting which means I’m two steps away from massive gardening chores. I’m supposed to be starting my less-paid-work-more-writing career…today. All the volunteer opportunities that sounded great in the fall are due this month. And it’s my wedding anniversary, with no plans made to celebrate.

It was a good morning to meditate. This morning, meditation meant sitting in my reading chair, ice pack on my shoulder, eyes closed, letting all that anxiety wash over me.

I let exaggerations run wild through my imagination. I imagined having to give up all the physical activities I like to do because I can’t move my arm and keep getting injured. I ran through the long list of things that I would have to do to have a good garden, feeling defeated before I even started. I thought with dread about all I have to do in preparation for the elementary art program I’m helping to present and the fundraiser I’m chairing. I fairly shook with the fears of never making it as a writer after laying all the groundwork. I felt badly thinking about the half-assed effort I made to honor my marriage. I felt a little sorry for myself. And then, I was done.

I saw the pointlessness of my anxieties. Even my worst case scenarios weren’t all that bad. The sun is out. I can hear the long silent birds now singing outside my window. Spring is finally arriving. Right now. In this moment, I can find pleasure. My hot cup of coffee. Writing. The sound of my daughter singing happily to herself in the other room. I do not need to breathe any more life into my anxieties. I do not need to give this moment over to them.

My crazy schedule doesn’t start until tomorrow. I am able to ice/heat my injury whenever I need to today. I will make my lists and prioritize and organize. I will plan my schedule for writing. I will figure out exercise I can do without using my arm. I am going to write a loving note to my husband and wrap the small gift I got him. I am going to plan a nice family dinner for this evening. I’m going to be okay.

Meditation is not for the timid. It’s for people like me, overwhelmed, in pain, disoriented, anxious – we can find ourselves fighting off our worries and anxieties until we implode. Inside me is this field where free range anxiety gallops, roughshod over the greener pastures. I gave it a few moments. Then I put a fence around it. And now I’m here.