My Turn: Spring’s promise    


Published: 6/10/2021 4:36:00 PM

It’s that time. The fall of the spring has begun. Just a week or so ago gentle wind precipitated a flurry of pink crabapple petals from the neighbor’s tree; my heart contracted a little. Next to go were the white apple blossoms and now it is the pincherry blossoms that are scattering. The crescendo of spring color that began with the daffodils, so perfectly matched to the courting goldfinches, rose higher to include brilliant tulips and forget-me-nots then the iris; it finally reached forte unabashedly as the azaleas and rhododendrons bloomed out. The glory swelled nearly to the bursting point; and then just in time the continuing transformation eased the pressure of almost too much beauty and created space for the new wonder of intensity: the most ardent shades of greens in the living, breathing trees and grasses, leafing and stretching despite a lack of rain.

The ending of spring’s exuberance and celebration feels like a loss; the letdown is buoyed back up by the sight of tiny peaches forming fuzzy and tear-shaped; the blueberries, rounding and plumping, though still green; the strawberries forming, hidden and camouflaged in their green phase but there for the searching. The oak leaves have unfurled from miniature perfection to tender full size, now able to cast a bit of cooling shade; the first dandelions have gone to puff, but are replaced by buttercups and other wildflowers that still strive to match the plumage of the wild canaries.

Our country, too, has come through the first few months of its new season. With fanfare and speed, the new administration made sure to provide a safety net under the families, businesses and communities still reeling and buckled from the pandemic’s relentless losses. With quieter but no less urgent effort, vaccination distribution was improved, extended and intensified. But the early relief is fading, the extent of our challenges has become clearer, especially with half a Congress entranced by a big lie and its perpetrators and declaring an unconscionable intention to block this administration at every turn.

We face a time when the public has a new awareness of some of our nation’s deepest wounds, along with our planet’s most dire challenges, yet we do not have the support of half of the people sent to Washington to help us heal and blaze creative new pathways to survival. There are so many strategies available, sound and bold and doable, but time is short; progress on both the social and environmental fronts is overdue. Delay is lethal whether you are a citizen of color, a person vulnerable to COVID or a community facing drastic impacts from global warming. Resistance seems to be based on out-of-date economic theory, unscientific ideas, social and cultural biases or just plain greed and hunger for power.

In the garden, the bean sprouts are shouldering up through the compost. They look so sturdy, even reassuring. Can they survive? Will they be overtaken by weeds? Singed by drought? Eaten up by invasive beetles? There is a lot of hands and knees labor to be done to see it through. The bluebirds are doing their part, tirelessly shuttling to and fro from nest to ground to feed their brood. It is up to us to keep those sprouts growing until they get down strong roots and begin to reach upward toward the azure summer sky.

Just so, even as we are moving a bit dazed and blinking into the prospect of a less COVID-constrained world, it is up to us to keep the work moving nationally. We have a daunting conjunction of circumstances, crises and opportunities. The sea of issues is deep and wide. And turbulent. We need to keep the focus, push and shove and speak as loudly as needed to get it done. Yes, even one call at a time, one email, one letter, one donation — it all adds up. Pull the weeds, hoe the grass out, spread the compost. Talk to your neighbors and elected officials, a persistently as those chorusing birds.

For what we know in the midst of shifting seasons and energies is this: from the heart-catching loss of spring, comes the prospect of the harvest’s bounty.

Judith Wagner lives in Northfield.

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