Cathy-Hird-flowersA hint of spring is in the air, a breath of fresh air, and a touch of warmth in the sun. This is a time of renewal. I wonder, in your life, what brings you this refreshing gift?

Snow still covers much of the ground, and the dirt is frozen solid. Still, in pots of earth set in the window sill, we can start tomatoes, plant basil and thyme. The sun will warm the earth we bring inside, and green will grow, a reminder that crocuses and maple leaves are coming.

We all know that this February was cold, so very cold. But it was also bright. Clear blue sky let the brilliant light of the sun reach us. Light sparkled from icicles and snowflakes. Sun reflected off the white snow sending us to find sun glasses to drive. White snow made the night bright.

Still, as clean a look as a snow covered field presents, there comes a time when we long for colour. The first grass that appears is yellow-brown, but the tips of iris leaves are green. Lilac buds are swelling. Soon we will see daffodil leaves, promises of a riot of colour in our gardens.

Our world is a noisy place. Trucks and cars rumble down busy roads. Canned music blares in stores and elevators. A still winter day offers a rare gift, silence.

But by now we've had enough of winter's emptiness. We seek the magic of running water at Inglis Falls or the Thornbury dam. We listen for the mating song of a chickadee and thrill of the first red ringed blackbird. Unlike the empty silence or the blaring noise, spring offers music to our ears.

Winter air is clean, fresh, invigorating, a contrast to the stuffy office, the belching factory, the perfume section of the drug store. At -20, cold makes our face tingle, and there is nothing to smell.

Soon though, when we step outside, we will smell the richness of earth, the scent of lilac, the sharp smell of cut grass. In the meantime, there are smells we can enjoy: a bouquet of roses on the kitchen table or a bowl of potpourri remind us of what will come. Spices sizzling in oil or the aroma of baking bread can fill a kitchen with promise.

Even in an all-day meeting, there can be refreshing gifts. We make it to the afternoon break, and head for a cookie and a strong cup of coffee. We can instead choose an apple or a mango juice. Or, we can step out of the stuffy building, get outside where we feel earth and see trees, where we breathe fresh air and feel the sun. A different perspective to take back to the rest of the meeting.

When chores are heavy and work is a duty, when life brings more and more stress, we can be weighed down by reality. We can forget the bright fresh hope that moves us. We collapse on the coach and turn on a mindless television program, numbing the stress for a moment. But we have options. We have CDs we love, favorite singers whose voice soothes, players whose instrumental work relaxes us. We can put our favourite music in the CD player and lean back with open ears to let the sound refresh us. Or we can get to our feet and dance to the rhythm as the beat moves us.

We need spring in all its forms. We need a breath of fresh air. Laughing with a friend or a loved one reminds us what else is in the world. A long rambling chat brings a different memory to mind. Watching a child play or a horse run speaks to our spirits of the sheer joy of living.

An artificial world surrounds us. Our days get tightly structured and constrained. But life breaks through whether we notice or not. The energy of new life is working. Spring is a season that invites us to see the bursting energy, the joyous colour, invites us to breath rich, fresh air. In this season, the creator reminds us that life is stronger, and always dawning new.
Cathy Hird is a farmer, minister and writer living near Walters Falls.


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