Here in Northeast Wisconsin, warmer weather is arriving painfully slow. Spring makes an appearance then disappears, taking her green magic with her. This time of year we experience what I call Old Man Winter’s dark white. The extended transition time weighs heavy on the spirit of many folks. As each dark white day passes, the anticipation of spring grows green in our hearts. We know spring will come but we worry about how long it’s taking to get here. It’s precisely this “knowing” that stirs up the crazy in people.
I watched a pair of robin’s, hopping through the snow, stopping occasionally on a grassy patch to cock their heads sideways and listen for worms. Later, they were bouncing through the branches of our crab apple tree gobbling down shriveled up fruit from last season. They don’t “know” when or where their next meal will come from, yet they survive on the unknown, living life in complete acceptance of what is.
Weather, a master at teaching non-judgment and surrender, gives us daily lessons on how to release control and follow the flow. The robin’s made it look easy. Following the flow is all about the awareness of whether you are flailing or floating through this fleeting moment. To arrive at this place of complete surrender, give up the narrow mindedness of knowing and widen your mindfulness of the unknown—explore the great unknowns.
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”~ Mark Twain
All winter under a white shawl of snow and cold Mother Earth’s dreams kept her buried in warmth below the frost line. The line is gradually melting away and I feel her stir beneath my feet. Her deep softness rising. All of Mother Earth’s children are opening. Our brothers and sisters living in nature remember the gift of opening is to let light and warmth out as much, maybe even more, as it is to let it in. Spring, the season for our deep softness to rise and shine.
On this, the calendars last day of winter,
my glance is drawn toward the bouncing crab apple branches to my right.
They’re laden with a feast of red wrinkled berries for a winged-one.
I saw the round bird’s gray-brown feathers with warm orange under parts flutter joyfully by.
On wings of anticipation the migration prayer has been consummated.
Springs ambassador has returned!
The vernal song hibernating within us is aroused.
“Cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up”! The Robin sings.
On this, the calendars first day of spring.
American Robin photo by Dave Menke- US Fish and Wildlife (public domain)
Small seeds of sweetness
Push through the hardness of life
Reluctantly, I turn up the edge of my wool hat, exposing an ear’s tender thin skin to the air’s frosty bite. I feel the white flesh turning pink then bright red as the sharp prickle travels down deeper and further into the ear tissue. I momentarily suspend my breathing as I firmly press the naked ear to the hive wall. Sealing out all the noise I can, hoping to funnel in the familiar soothing hum of the hive, hinting that winter’s wickedness hasn’t desecrated the hives holiness.
Early on in our beekeeping venture, these late-winter checks filled me with strong worry. Six years and four hives later, my faith and trust in our ability to keep bees alive over winter has grown, but with the abundance evil’s rising against the bee, I still rely heavily on God’s ear hearing the hum of my prayers.
One of the biggest contributors to a hive’s winter survival is having ample food stores. Bees create a substance in the hive known as beebread. The secret recipe is a mixture of honey, pollen and bee saliva. A process of fermentation breaks down the pollen’s protein which is indigestible in its natural state. Beebread is an invaluable high-energy food source.
Beebread is also known as “food of the Gods”. How appropriate! A bee’s life work is creating a space to unite the gifts of light with the gifts of darkness. They are Creator’s original light workers! Bees show us that when we bring our Spirit’s light into our soul’s darkness, we can make a honey of a life.
May you receive honey’s sweet sacrament. Take communion from the buds and blooms of Creator’s Divinity.
Blessed be thy bee.
Holy is thy hive.
They came before the sunbeams pierced the darkness. Two sets of heart-shaped foot prints lead to, around and then away from the small hills of corn I placed at the woodland’s edge, an offering to the wild things to gather strength and sustenance during an extended period of subzero temperatures. No remnants of the corn’s golden shell remain. To see my small hills of goodwill consumed fills my heart with joy.
From the size of the tracks, I decide it’s a doe and her off-spring from last year. Others have come, too; a rabbit, a field mouse, and several crows but it’s the deer tracks that take hold of my imagination. It’s safe for me to assume the doe is eating for two or three. The burden of nourishing the new life in her womb and her own life is greatest at this time of year. The shrubs and forages they have been eating over the long winter are depleted and spring growth hasn’t begun. It’s truly a time of life or death for some in the herd.
Soon her instincts will cause her to drive off the yearling. She does this to focus all her energy on raising this year’s vulnerable fawn(s). The yearling’s old life will come to an abrupt end. I’ll probably see it wandering around the fields looking lost and confused for a few weeks. Independence will come at a high price for some, crossing roads safely is a skill taught by experience. Others will adapt well to this time of transition, venturing out into a new way of living without hesitation, being an example of gentle strength and resiliency for all of us.
The thoughts of the big changes ahead for the yearling stayed with me as I walked on. The enduring trust the doe placed in her instincts is indomitable. She has clear knowledge that it is a lesson she can’t teach her yearling. Trusting its instincts is something the yearling can only learn by being driven off to live a new way. Nature reminds me of life’s continual cycle of renewal. Harsh as that may be at times, life never gets old.
As the years pass, I am beginning to understand that life doesn’t grow old. I do. And if the aliveness in this old life dies away, I will find a new way to live alive.
Note: The photo in the featured image is of an unusually friendly yearling that seemed to find comfort hanging out in our yard and around the horses last summer.
This happens frequently when I’m driving on my morning school bus route. As I head East, I watch in awe as the sun slowly awakens. Brilliant hues of pink, purple and orange peek over the night’s black blanket with blinks of hope and promise for the day ahead. It’s difficult sometimes to draw my eyes away from its radiant beauty. My first thought is, “I need to take a picture of this!” I want to remember this beautiful sight and share it with everyone I know! But of course, I can’t because I’m driving—a school bus.
I found a better way to capture the moment. I open my heart’s lens and let it focus on the beauty before me. In long slow breaths, I inhale the sunrise’s hope and promise and drop it into my heart, the one place where the colors will never fade and at a moment’s thought, the beautiful feeling can be be retrieved. Making every heartbeat a Kodak moment I share with the world.