I watched a robin explore one of our crab apple trees yesterday afternoon. He hopped from bare branch to bare branch, stopping now and then to poke at old, dried-up crabapples with his beak. At one point he seemed to look right at me, as if he were making sure I noticed his presence. I wasn’t sure how to respond.
Robins usually don’t come back to this area of Minnesota until at least the end of March, though last year we saw one on February 18th, the same day the seasonal ‘spring melt’ stream ran — unseasonably early. Yesterday was February 16th, so it seems this trend of early melting will continue for another season. The snow is almost gone after a few days of 40 degrees, and today it’s 50. Tomorrow it is projected to be 55, and Sunday, 57. Winter as I remember it just doesn’t seem to happen anymore, and this early warmth doesn’t feel normal.
Continue reading “The Reality I’m In”
Spring came early this year in Minnesota. Last week the overnight lows bottomed out at -11 and the world was still bright white after a fresh snowfall at the end of February and the ground rock solid, but this week the highs are singing themselves into the 60s, the world is brown once more, and the earth gives again under our weight. There are a few memories of white left deep in the forest and behind the biggest boulders in the ravine, but most traces of winter have melted away. The seasonal ravine stream has run and dried up, within the same week. The lake is still a swath of ice, and will be for awhile yet, but the geese have returned and the trumpeter swans that wintered here at the place where the river doesn’t freeze are calling out a welcome. Just like the fall that suddenly turned to winter with a foot of snow and plummeting temperatures, the season has now suddenly turned to spring under a powerful March sun and snow that was quick to acquiesce to its urgency.
I’ve been reading a lot about vulnerability, and the challenges we humans have when it comes to embracing such a state, in the last few weeks. It seems like good timing, as the season changes. The natural world doesn’t struggle with putting itself out there and being vulnerable. It just does it because there is no other option. A flower comes up in the spring and offers itself to the elements, whatever they turn out to be. A tree buds when warm enough temperatures invite it to do so, even if there’s a hard freeze looming — It doesn’t hesitate, or worry about what might happen, or hide behind a fear of what might come next. Presenting new life unfolding is the only choice. Even if it means getting frozen as a result.
Brene Brown writes,
There’s nothing more daring than showing up, putting ourselves out there and letting ourselves be seen.
Like the flower that buds just in time for a late spring snowfall, or the apple tree that gives up its autumn fruit for the chance to bud with the first warmth after winter, we can let our beauty be seen when we step out into the sun. We might fall, we might get covered up by snow, we might freeze to the ground and have to ask for help. We will surely be uncomfortable, and we will probably be afraid of what might come next. But we will be courageous and we will be living in the only place that allows us to be fully alive.
So spring may have come early to Minnesota, and we wonder what that will mean for the upcoming growing season and the world in general as the climate continues to shift. But we can use the vulnerabilities of nature to hold onto the remembrance of what it means to dare to live without apologies and full of self worth and gratitude for the chance to be seen.
In order to free our world from its present nightmare of materialism and exploitation, we need a new story—a story of oneness and interdependence, of cooperation rather than competition. But to make this transition we need a power, the magic that belongs to life itself. How can we find this magic to give birth to a new story of oneness, of the earth as a living, self-sustaining whole, full of beauty and wonder?
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee goes on to say, “The next story is not going to be just a human story, and it’s not going to be on our terms.” It’s going to be on the earth’s terms, and it’s going to validate that we humans are not separate from or above or more important than nature. The current story that we are embedded in heralds consumerism, wealth and getting ahead as the road to a successful and happy life. This story has a powerful pull – it has demonstrated the power to change the physical world beyond recognition in too many cases, and it has demonstrated the power to entice the collective of humanity to turn a blind eye to the cry of the earth. We have poured ourselves into this current story with abandon and it can be hard to feel the new one that wants to emerge. Continue reading “The Need For Magic”
This winter started early with a foot of unexpected snow mid November, and then 13 days later temperatures in the 40s and 50s invited the ground to turn dry and brown again. Then a few weeks into December, the temperature dropped below freezing, and it snowed just enough inches to cover the ground in bright white. We got a few weeks of ice skating on the rink that my husband likes to clear on the lake, skied some loops around the field in shallow tracks, and our two year old took her first runs down the sledding hill through the wisps of grass that poked through the snow cover. Then it got bitterly cold, and we woke up to wind chills of twenty below zero for a week straight. And now, at the end of January, the temperature is 36 degrees, the sun is out and the snow is succumbing to the heat once again. We made a snowman, and he’s shrinking as I type this. I’m not sure he’ll make it a full week. My skis are languishing by the back door, despondent in their respite from use. The snowshoes are sitting by the door, waiting to be needed. Continue reading “The New World of Winter”