It’s that time of year when the waiting begins. Waiting for warmer weather. Waiting for more daylight. Waiting for the geese to leave and the ospreys to return. Waiting for the first bulbs to poke their little green heads through the refreshed soil, telling us not to lose hope. Waiting. Waiting…
My friend Eggman delights in telling me when he first espies a red-wing blackbird, his personal harbinger of spring. That’s already happened. Another friend tells me he’s beginning to feel the sap flowing in his veins again and that, like Rip Van Winkle, he’s waking up after a months-long nap. How I envy them! I’m still waiting for my own personal vernal epiphany; I know it will happen, but with each passing day, my anticipation grows and grows, only to be frustrated by another chilly, grey February morning. C’mon, Flora, Roman goddess of spring. Show me your lovely face, and let the world be born anew.
Or maybe it’s Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, I should summon. In Greek mythology, it is she who, following her abduction to the underworld by Hades, returns annually to the surface world, bringing with her the seeds of the crops and vegetation we need to nourish our bodies and feed our souls. Should any of you happen to see her standing beside the road with her thumb extended, please pick her up and bring her home. It’s time.
Spring is the most frustrating of seasons. We wait and wait; we look for the signs; we will it to arrive. One warm day and we are tempted to believe that winter is on its way out, only to be disappointed by its cranky u-turn. Fool’s gold.
Every year, my wife and I think about heading south for a few weeks to wait out this time of seasonal transition. Florida, an island in the Caribbean, anywhere we can bask in the sun and feel some sand between our toes. Alas, for the last couple of years, circumstances have conspired against us, so here we sit, making ourselves content with a fire in the grate or a wee dram in the glass. I walk out onto the porch—heart of our home!—and sit for a spell, but it’s just too cold and damp. Muttering, I retreat inside, turn on the TV, and watch golfers strolling down impossibly green fairways under sunny skies in far-off places like Hawaii or California or Arizona. Spring is already there, so why can’t it be here?
I try to make spring’s latent arrival a lesson in patience. Won’t one more day of dreich (recently voted the most iconic of Scottish words!) weather make spring’s inevitable appearance all the sweeter? Probably true, but that’s a hard sell at this interminable time of year. Let’s move along, people, nothing to see here. Just another dull grey day, dressed in glowering clouds and gusting winds, overstaying its welcome like some drunken uncle on New Year’s Eve.
I know: before we realize, we’ll be sweltering in the heat, drowning in the humidity, waiting for the first leaves to fall. Fine. But between now and then, there are plenty of mornings and evenings when I will be able to assume my rightful place on the porch rocker while smelling the roses and watching the fireflies flicker.
Bring it on! My patience is wearing thin. I’m waiting!
I’ll be right back.
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer who lives in Chestertown. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy Magazine.
His debut novel, “This Salted Soil,” a delightful children’s book, “The Ballad of Poochie McVay,” and two collections of essays (“Musing Right Along” and “I’ll Be Right Back”), are available on Amazon. Jamie’s website is Musingjamie.net.