Every year that one day appears when, as I am driving down U.S. 50 Highway for whatever reason, the skeleton trees undulating in the wind show a slight, almost imperceptible tinge of green on their naked branches. The color is a little easier to see when I look out over a panoramic view, such as when as the road leads up to the intersection at state Route T.
As soon as I get home from that drive, I scour the vinca bed in front of the garage, finding signs of the peonies pushing their way through the tangled thicket, and seeing that the crocus is ready to bloom. At that point, my heart skips a beat, because that is the day I know that spring has arrived and warmer days are not far behind.
Most years, that day occurs around Easter and confirms the rebirth of the earth that has closed down for winter: another new beginning. For 24 years now, we have lived in our house and have eagerly waited for spring to turn the yard from its dormant colorless state to lush green, needing mowing almost every third day.
The tulip tree in the backyard bursts to bloom, astonishing us with its beauty. We hold our breath for the two weeks or so that the flowers are at their best, because for about half the number of years we have lived in the house, the tree has beautified itself too soon, its blossoms turning an ugly brown because of a late freeze or cold snap — or last year, snow.
About the same time, the forsythia start popping their bright yellow blooms, signifying that the worst of the winter is behind us. One of our friends declared that forsythia is “almost carnivorous and impossible to kill.” I think she was right, because every year, we see more yellow, signifying that the forsythia has spread yet again and that it will have to be dug up and we will have to find someone who would like to plant some. We give away about seven plants every year.
Four clumps of coral tulips greet us each spring from their place in front of the garage, and they have been in bloom almost every year at Easter, their foliage being a great spot to find colored eggs. Only when Easter was extremely early or late have the tulips not been available to hide the Easter Bunny’s presents.
Along with spring’s freshness comes the realization of how much “stuff” has accumulated on the back porch during the long winter, and Max gets ready to clean the porch and wash the jalousie windows so that we can see the backyard clearly while we are cooking dinner each night. Each evening we then walk through the clean back porch to poke around the backyard, seeing what new plant has arrived or leafed out that day.
Best of all, spring and Easter mean that my extended family will be getting together for a mini family reunion: cooking and eating and laughing and watching the next generation. While most of us live in and around Kansas City and mid-Missouri, my aunt and her family are from the Chicago/Milwaukee area, and my cousin lives near Spokane, Wash. And now, Emily lives in Little Rock. One year, the group included relatives we didn’t even know we had; they hailed from Alabama and California, and they all thought that Sedalia was a fine place to meet.
Years ago, we all met up in Thayer, but my father, my grandfather, and my uncle, all who lived in Thayer, are gone now, and Sedalia seemed to be the next logical place to gather. After all, I have to be in church on Easter Sunday — prior to now, I accompanied the choir, and now I am directing it. It is pretty important for a church musician to be in church on Easter.
All in all, spring and Easter are a time of renewal, of new birth, of looking forward to what the year has to offer, and of hope. I hope your spring offers you all that.