Most of the things I enjoy best about spring depend upon acts of faith I perform in the final brown days of autumn. Tulips planted and lambs conceived in those shortening days kindle the hope that after mid-winter, the nights will grow shorter, the five months of snow will melt and warmth and green will return with new life.
We hide daffodil bulbs around in the woods, as previous owners have done. When we discover them in April, the bright joy of those yellow flowers against the still mud-brown landscape always manages to renew our spirits when we begin to feel like spring is never going to come.
My appreciation for spring has taken on a new direction since we moved from midwestern inner city to Western New York country. There is still that breakthrough feeling of life renewing, but now it is much more tied to the natural world. It’s the beginning of the cycle. Garden soil warms enough for seedlings started in the cellar to be planted and take root. Eggs go into the incubator to hatch this year’s roasters and next year’s layers. Geese set their clutch of eggs, lambs are born in all their adorable springiness, our kids fill the fish tank with tadpoles and we emerge from our own hibernation and marvel at how the neighbor’s baby grew into a toddler over winter. All of summer and autumn’s bounty begins now. And for me, each seedling planted, each egg hatched and each tadpole metamorphosed is an act of hope.
I want my family to understand the work involved in putting food on the table. To trust in the sowing and tending. To respect and wonder at how the cycle of life provides for us. And while the family certainly grumbles at times when there is work to be done, we also experience the rewards.
We want to live our lives in the healthiest, most delicious and balanced way we can. I worry about the overuse of antibiotics in our food system. I worry about our bees. I worry about our bats. I worry about our water. I worry about how commercial food production is affecting our bodies. But when changing the world feels overwhelming, I can pick the fresh fruits from my garden and collect eggs from happy chickens, knowing that at least in my small corner of this world we have hope.