This past Monday as I drove to my childhood home to check up on my elderly parents, I was entranced by the gradual change of seasons that was visible along the way. My route takes two hours by car, and is on a nearly perfect north-south axis. Traveling south towards my destination, I noticed that every mile I drove brought me further into the fullness of spring.
At the northern beginning of my route, the trees are still mostly bare. The maples are starting to show their tiny flowers, giving some trees a slight reddish tinge, hinting at autumn glories to come. The early daffodils are out, sometimes poking up at random intervals along the roadside, echoes of gardens planted decades ago in yards of long-demolished houses. But that’s about it. The grass is still brownish and bedraggled, and the fields are a muddy mess. The hawk circling overhead has a clear view of any prey scurrying along the ground.
Slowly, slowly, spring unfolds before me as I go. 30 miles south the grass already looks greener. Past another 30 miles I begin to see the faintest haze of verdant pale promise floating over the trees. With each mile, that haze grows more intense with early season tiny flowers and pale catkins. A few more miles, and feral forsythia blooms randomly in stands of trees along the side of the highway, perhaps an escapee from a long-ago tidy garden now spreading, untrimmed and wild. At my destination, spring is in full flower. Pale pink and white blossoms decorate spring trees, together with unnatural neon plastic eggs suspended from their branches.
Spring is on the move. Next week, when I make that same drive, the green haze will have advanced about 30 miles. Another week, and it will be here. I take comfort in its inevitability. Regardless of whatever else is happening, there is no stopping the advancing season. I revel in its possibilities, and make plans to soak up its sunshine with outstretched arms, closed eyes and a grateful smile.
Of course, next October, I will follow the progression of autumn in the other direction. Just as inevitable, it comforts me as well, but in a different sort of way than the spring advance.
Life change, like seasonal change, is unstoppable. Neither good times nor bad times last forever. The seasons change annually, and also over eons as continents shift and climates morph from one type to another. Wet seasons, dry seasons. Spring moves north, week by week. We dance the path of birth, growth, maturity, decline and death. Earth dances through its annual round. Nothing persists but this dance. The beat goes on…
Photo Credit: flickr user joiseyshowaa at www.creativecommons.org