as she leaps off the bus, our oldest daughter announces that spring will be arriving in three days, and my whole body leans in to receive the news. i can feel my spine lengthen like a long, peaceful breath. i stand taller, easier. have we arrived? the winter has been mild but lifeless, punctuated with moments of teasing warmth. i have nearly convinced myself this is how it will always be: a day of relief, followed by the long swallow of dreary afternoons. i am tired of chai tea, sinking into the couch, quilts too heavy to kick aside, fogged glass, scarves. the other day i wore a necklace that suffocated me. my neck broke out in hives. even my body says: we need space.
the grey has gone on for days, for miles.
i am a porch person. i come from porch people. i can still feel the sharp sting of grandma k’s green plastic porch carpet on my knees, and i do believe i learned much of how to become a human being on that porch: how to listen, to share, to play, to read, to love. i can still smell the sweet musk of cigarettes from grandma gorbett’s back porch, where dozens of us gathered with coffee and chips ahoy every sunday, a tribe of mishmash cousins and aunts and somebody’s boyfriend and somebody’s neighbor. last year, when we built our own house, a wide front porch was first on my list. i think my soul is set to the rhythm of rocking chairs and night crickets, their echoing song as good a mantra as any: shanti, shanti, shanti. peace, peace, peace.
i would like to unzip, unswaddle, unswathe, wake up, hike up, stretch out along the length of a porch and stay awhile.
the sky has been blue for the past two days, with clouds mountainous and otherworldly.
the trees have not bloomed yet, and i know it will happen overnight, which itself is such a surprising feat. we often think of spring as a flirty, flippant season: color and vibrancy, spring break, spring fling, spring has sprung. but there is such immense work involved in bringing forth blooming life from months of brittle desolation. the blossom comes not in spite of the winter, but because of it, straight through it. the dormancy is where the work is, and unseen, on the molecular level, in a silent language only the marrow of the branches know.
how we vastly underestimate the humble, exhausting work of change and rebirth, in all of god’s creation.
how often are miracles arduous, and miracles all the same.
Coreen Schaefer is an educator and writer living in Cleveland, Ohio. She currently serves as a dean at an all-girls high school. Coreen oftentimes sees the majesty of nature through the lens of young children, as she is a Girl Scout leader and mom of three. Her daily prayer is to follow Mary Oliver’s lead: “Pay attention. Be astonished. Write about it.” She keeps a blog of reflection at world with round shoulders.
Photo by Richard Semik