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April 9, 2009

This Wonderful Life

Sometimes spring requires a leap of faith

I cannot remember ever being so eager for spring as I am this year.

Maybe it was all the ice we had this winter. Maybe it is the small patches of snow that are still holding out on shady hillsides here and there. Maybe it’s the fact that I woke up to snow falling on an April morning. Maybe it’s just this Southerner’s realization that winter in Upstate New York lasts more than SIX WHOLE MONTHS.

Whatever the case, I am more, more, MORE than ready for spring to make her magic on the countryside. One afternoon last week, when I got home from work, I took Zuzu the dog outside and scanned the trees for signs of a new season. Driving past them at a distance, all their gray, scraping branches still appear bare and boney. Up close, though, you can see the first tight buds of a new season.

The snowdrops and crocuses have made their appearances in our gardens. I cannot wait to get out and make the gardens a little more presentable by trimming out some of those dead stalks from last year and raking up the leaves that were buried last fall under the snow.

And yet the snow and cold conspire against me, preventing me from my gardening responsibilities. Although I never entertain thoughts of moving to Florida, my mind has wandered elsewhere.

I search the computer for some happy, lilting music — something sung in French, so I cannot immediately understand the lyrics, and therefore have no idea whether the chanteuse is bemoaning her poverty, describing her broken heart or exalting the beauty of the cherry blossoms. As long as she sounds cheery, I don’t really care. Not my problem, Edith Piaf! I check the forecast in Paris. Highs near 60 and lows near 40 all week. Perfect. As I type this in the middle of the afternoon, it’s 29 F (feels like 18 F).

Actually,, it feels like a personal insult. Every morning that requires a coat feels like defeat. I look at my daughters’ snow boots and think, ``Surely, I should be tossing you aside or packing you for a trip to the thrift store.’’ But no. They may need those boots again before it’s all over.

I understand now how powerful it is to perform a spring cleaning in a winterheavy climate.

Back in Florida, spring cleaning meant taking advantage of those few weeks in March and April when you could open the windows and be comfortable. By late April, though, you would rely on air conditioning to keep you cool.

Here, spring cleaning is an act of supreme optimism. It’s an act of defiance, stowing away heavy coats and boots and sweaters with a sidelong glance at the weather report. It’s an act of protest, not unlike wearing a sundress on Easter, no matter what the temperature outside.

It is a warm, clear voice on a cold morning that says, ``Although there is no evidence of it in the air, I do believe that flowers will bloom and trees will give fruit and we will sleep without socks on our feet. It will happen. And it will happen soon.’’

Elizabeth Trever Buchinger believes in spring.

Don’t forget the Reading for Spring, happening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, at Hoffman Lane Bistro. Bring a reading for spring or Earth Day, or just come to listen.