For several weeks now I’ve been trying to write about springtime, and what spring means to farmers. I feel in my bones that mid-winter yearning for warmer weather, the resurrection of life in the trees, flowers, and crops, the taller and later shadows of longer days, and glorious fresh air. But as much as I tried, the right words about springtime just would not come to me. I stopped and started writing multiple times. I got irritated and impatient. I was trying to force the words, just as we try to force the coming of spring–vain complaints we make about being tired of the cold, only for Mother Nature to show her most salty and unpredictable side in late winter and early spring.
And then, in the midst of trying to force a written masterpiece on springtime…it snowed (that salty B!). A heavy dusting, if you will — maybe two inches. But it was just enough to cover almost everything in silence — the glistening, serene, blanketing silence of snow. Even though it wasn’t a big snow, it was enough–as snow always is in North Carolina– to make us look up from our normal routine and take pause. Schools released early and then were closed (that’s NC for you), businesses were delayed, and farm work was limited. Matt got home early. And suddenly the yearning I had felt for spring changed to simultaneous nostalgia and a yearning for time and this season to stand still. I watched our son take pure delight in this modest snowfall that he’d been waiting for all winter, and I was reminded of the thrill of snow days growing up. If you’ve read some of my other posts, like an ode to the simple summer, you know that I grew up in a cul-de-sac neighborhood full of kids, and snow days were as good as Christmas for us. I remember standing in the woods in one particularly amazing snow of the 90s (much better than a two-inch dusting), left behind in a moment of solitude after everyone else had raced off to another sledding hill. I remember looking up at the snow still falling, the trees folded over with white, and the perfectly still woods around me. The complete awe and wonderment I felt in that moment is still vividly ingrained in my memory.
This week, as I watched our oldest son’s glee in seeing the snow fall, and his precious, genuine excitement over eating the snow and building a snowman (while our youngest refuse to even stand in the weird, wet white stuff he had never seen before), I was thankful spring wasn’t here yet. I was thankful for this brief pause we were forced to take from our daily grind, as we stopped to look up at the snow falling. I was grateful for my childhood memories that make me yearn for my children to have similar experiences. I want to see the wonder in their faces, their awe of Mother Nature, and for them to know the soulful peace only found in the stillness of snowy woods. I was, and am, so glad that we are not, after all, in control of changing the seasons, no matter our futile attempts and how much we think we’re ready for the next season. Try as we might, we can’t force springtime. We can’t force the harvest. We can’t force Mother Nature.
And when we stop trying to force it, we remember to look up and take pause in the season we’re in. And likely, before you know it that season will be over and you’ll be on to warmer weather. For us, in the off-season of colder weather and shorter days, we have more family time, more meals together, and even an occasional taste of that mythical creature they call down time. Despite the longer days and grueling physical and mental demands of springtime on a farm, I still find myself longing for a new and warmer season….until the snow falls and whispers to us…Stop. Look up. Enjoy this season you’re in, because it will too soon be gone.