Spring has come, bursting onto the landscape in an intense green fire. The woods have closed in, blanked in new leaf and, this morning, fog. The annual chorus of bird song greets us at 4:30 in the morning. The rich melodies of Aaron Copland’s iconic chamber music, Appalachian Spring, fill the classical music airwaves, providing a soundtrack to this eruption of color and song.
The force of Nature’s rush into Spring at the higher latitudes is awe-inspiring. No wonder we speak of the birth of Spring, noting the rush to space and light that seems to mark the arrival of all new life. There is waiting, anticipation, urgency, then a full headlong charge into being.
Here in Vermont the outdoors is always nearby, even here in Burlington, Vermont’s version of a “big city.” Vermonters as a lot like being outside, changes in weather and season remain central to conversation. Our speech is playfully anchored in climate, articulating daily life in the changing rhythms of the natural world. Yet, even here the lure of the screen draws us indoors. I wonder how many of us missed Spring’s arrival this week, certainly not the hordes who made their way to the beaches and the still icy waters of the lake, the cold a marked contrast to days of heat and sun.
The outer world thrust of Spring provides a sort of homeopathic alternative to the inward focus of winter, a fertile alternative to the inward focused calculations of depression and hopelessness. Even as we note the yearly quieting of the spring chorus which has gained a sense of inevitability (yes, there are fewer song birds, toads, and frogs), there remains a promise of renewal. This quickening will come at the pace of Mother Earth, a rush to refill all of the niches and nodes that form the web of life here in Pachamama. This mad lunge into fecundity occurs in geological time, not the compressed chronologies we humans measure. We see the erasure of species and diversity and not so much Mother Earth’s creative response to such loss. The loss can be numbing.
Depression, grief, and mourning call us inside, demanding withdrawal from the business of the world and making space for healing. In Spring, this call to introversion may seem particularly isolating, as though we were rowing against Life’s very current. Yet, even as we settle deeply into ourselves, the buds of renewal are forming. The sweet sap of renewal bides its time, gathering resources and awaiting opportunities to push us toward new engagement with the living world. Everyday rituals nurture this: the cup of tea, the walk in the garden or park, or simply feeling the warmth of water as we wash the dishes. When we are ready, Ceremony can aid us to reconnect to the world, even though our pace of renewal may seem slow compared to that of Nature. We might remember that Pachamama grows turtles as well as hawks.
In a few weeks we will have settled into the fecundity of Summer, perhaps forgetting these heady days of Spring and birthing. Yet the energy of Leaf Out remains in Nature and in us, awaiting the call to transform the landscape, to renew the world, or to support us as we reconnect to Life. Ceremony reminds us we may call on that force of Nature in times of need, even out of season.