By Merisa Sherman
Holding my mug in my hands, I stare out the window at my garden. My forehead is almost pressed to the glass, the warmth of the morning sun just starting to take effect. I empty my mind of all thoughts, letting the sun soak into my bones as I close my eyes to the moment. A couple of deep breaths and I am released and open to my surroundings. The rustling of the wind through the metal roofing combines with the ticking of the heater and the squeaking of the floor. All I can hear is a cubist’s sonata, the mechanical sounds an interesting complement to the nature that warms my body through the window.
I open my eyes again and I can see. With my mind’s eye I trace the path of the sun and I can see where the grass is beginning to stand up so tall it might finally be time to take the mower for its first spin. Cuttings from the final cut of the fall litter the lawn, a remnant of missing that final raking of the season. I’m reminded of that first snowfall that never melted, and the unfinished labor that was moved to the spring cleanup to do list. Random spots of vibrant and plush green grass blend in with others that will soon become Indian paintbrush, dandelions or even little wild strawberries.
Looking to the left, I’m drawn to the variable bulbs just making their way through the dirt. It’s still below freezing some nights, so the growth is slow. But something exciting happens every day. This morning, you could finally determine which color each of the chrysanthemums will be when they finally open. The daffodils might open this afternoon if it ever warms up and the sun comes out, but that is up to them. I study the progress of the day lilies and watch as the irises try to break out from their decomposing nests. The newly divided narcissus are just claiming their spaces in the garden, while we wait impatiently for the hostas to make themselves known.
Watching the rebirth of all my perennials is like waiting for old friends to travel the Oregon Trail. Who knows if they’ll actually come back, if they’ll die of dysentery or lose a wagon pulling oxen while trying to cross the Colorado. Especially when I saw a rabbit hopping about the property right before winter settled in. That super cute white fluffy jerk ate one hosta right next to the house last fall, so I have been watching anxiously to see who will have survived the winter.
I know they are all there, and will come back bigger and stronger than the previous spring. The hibernation underneath the snow and soil only seems to strengthen the plants, instead of weakening them. I notice the leaves finally starting to bud on the trees around the property, joyful pops of color changing the landscape for the next season. I can see new life popping up everywhere. From the ground, in the trees — even the sky seems different as the clouds shift from the icy cold of winter to the warm poofs of spring.
Staring out the window, I wonder how I will be reborn this spring. I wonder what challenges I suffered through this winter that will make me come out stronger and more beautiful than I had been the summer before. I wonder what space I will claim as my own and how I will grow throughout the season. Will I be smushed by a random snowstorm and have to fight to stay upright? Will I be stepped on by a deer, rolled in by a bear, or nibbled on by a rabbit all while trying to grow in the space that I claim as mine? Maybe I am a dandelion, mowed down by someone who feels I shouldn’t have the right to grow.
I sigh, knowing my thoughts have taken me too far away and I have a lot to do in the garden before I can go skiing this afternoon. Vermont life makes me laugh.