A week or so ago I was saying to friends, “Don’t rush me! It’s not spring, I haven’t finished (or begun) my winter chores yet, slow down, will you?” Some of us were standing in the doorway of a house out in the country, looking out at the soft grey day; the drizzle mixed with a little sleet, verging on snow. It was quiet, not too cold ... refreshing.
“This is beautiful,” I said, taking a deep breath.
“Are you crazy, it’s sleet and I’m freezing,” said Martha, “I can’t wait for spring.”
“I like it,” said Mary, “you can see through the woods now, find the old paths.”
“It’s restful,” said another. Except for the oil bills.
Then two things happened. First, I found some morning glories growing in one of my indoor plants — their delicate threads wavering up and around the trunk of the old jade. Seeds brought indoors in a handful of dirt from the patch by the kitchen door last fall, they nest warmly buried in the soil of their host plant — nothing to worry about, just waiting through the winter. Now, here they were, that most invasive of plants, in my living room.
Next, daylight time began — and there’s a lot more light, immediately. Every year we question this man-made phenomenon: who thought this up anyway? Begun many years ago, to give the farmers a longer work day, we always presumed, we have since figured out that it is simply to give more time for daytime activities. (Like shopping). We and our watches stay mixed up for a couple of days, then something goes on in the brain and we respond to more light in our waking day. We start peering into some of the garden patches, looking for (and finding) tiny green sprouts venturing through the leaves. Two ceramic flower pots on the patio that had broken into shards and frozen into place, suddenly collapse and can be swept up. The fishpond has finally melted, and the cats jump out on the stepping stones to see what’s what. We retrieve a couple of lawn chairs that had been blown into the bushes a week or so ago and stack them neatly. But it’s still too soon to get serious out there; spring cleanup can wait for a few more storms to blow by.
And, oh yes, one more thing that sends its message: the tiny ants are back. Without fail they come in the spring. I don’t know why we keep being surprised. On the kitchen counter one morning, we count a couple, then three or four, then ... a lot. They have waked up from wherever they have been hibernating and have come to call. We have a mild panic, buy new ant traps, and put away the sugar bowl. But it’s always the same; they bring their spring message and go away when they are good and ready, outside to the abundance of summer.
Jeanne Hewett is a fabric artist and writer who lives in Vineyard Haven and contributes regularly to the Gazette.