Icy Buds

Edward Steichen, Lilac Buds, Mrs. S., 1906

Perhaps the midwinter blues, not to mention all this rain and snow, gets you down, as it does me. I’ve been dragging myself through icy streets for days that seem like centuries. But my mood changed yesterday morning.

I got up, feeling weighted down by the cold, and dragged myself to the living room to do my wake-up exercises. A look out the window—the trees draped in ice—confirmed that there was nothing to feel good about. A closer look and I was on the verge of tears: all those tiny buds entombed in ice.

But wait a minute! Suddenly it came to me with visceral certainty that this hibernation would come to an end. Those buds contain a pulsating life which will not be denied when spring comes, no matter how dark and cold it is today. And so do I. That life may be wrapped up but it is seething in us, in the buds and in me. Now is our waiting time, our hibernation, until life is ready to express itself in new creation.

Suddenly an image from the past: my daughter in third grade, learning a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem by heart decades ago, as she walked around the apartment for two days in March, shouting “Ho, there! Ho!”

Note especially the last stanza:

Flower Chorus

O such a commotion under the ground,
When March called: “Ho! There! ho!”
Such spreading of rootlets far and wide
Such whisperings to and fro!
“Are you ready?” the Snowdrop asked,
‘Tis time to start, you know.”
“Almost, my dear!” the Scilla replied,
“I’ll follow as soon as you go.”
Then “Ha! ha! ha!” the chorus came
Of laughter sweet and low,
From millions of flowers under the ground,
Yes, millions beginning to grow.
“I’ll promise my blossoms,” the crocus said,
When I hear the black bird sing.”
And straight thereafter the Narcissus cried,
“My silver and gold I’ll bring.”
“And ere they are dulled,” another spoke,
“The Hyacinth bells shall ring.”
But the violet only murmured, “I’m here,”
And sweet grew the air of Spring.
O the pretty brave things, thro’ the coldest days
Imprisoned in walls of brown,
They never lost heart tho’ the blast shrieked loud,
And the sleet and the hail came down;
But patiently each wrought her wonderful dress
Or fashioned her beautiful crown,
And now they are coming to lighten the world
Still shadowed by winter’s frown.
And well may they cheerly laugh “Hah! Hah!”
In laughter sweet and low,
The millions of flowers under the ground,
Yes, millions beginning to grow.

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