By Cori Dusmann
A couple of weeks ago, while out enjoying a rare bit of sunshine between cold rainy spells, we saw our first bumblebee of the season, slowly moving from one bloom to another. There were no other bees to be seen, but this one was out, legs full of pollen, moving determinedly from one early bloom to another.
A couple of days later the two lizards which live under the stairs were warming themselves in the fleeting midday sun. And just today a crow skimmed low overhead with a heavy load of nest materials. New shoots are poking through the dark earth, cherry blossoms are garlanding the trees and daffodils are brightening the fields. It seems that, bit by bit, spring is arriving, with its longer days, bright colours and new life.
With the longer days and the accompanying fresh growth and reinvigorated activity, it seems that there is often a renewed sense of lightness and repurpose to our days, particularly a drive to get outside, to turn our faces to the sun, to dig in the earth, to start planning and planting gardens, be they full of flowers or more edible crops of fruits, berries and vegetables. After long weeks and months spent inside, there is an invitation on the wind to come out and play.
There is something fresh, new and exciting about planning what to plant, about preparing the earth, selecting the seeds and deciding what will work best in each location, in gently tipping each little bearer of new life into a hole and patting a blanket of earth on top. And then, once the seeds are planted, the waiting begins.
Of course there are the blooms already up from last autumn’s bulbs, and bedding plants that can be maneuvered into place, once the last risk of frost has passed, and there are those plants that may have been started early, gently nurtured indoors, slowly acclimatized to the outdoors and finally ready to be transplanted, and so the wait for new growth is lessened. But with all their beauty, none of these can replace the small thrill of success as new shoots come up from a carefully nurtured, seemingly empty patch of earth.
For so many plants, after the initial work of clearing the winter’s detritus, turning and preparing the soil, and planting the seeds, there remains the waiting. Once those small kernels have been sowed away in the warm earth, while there is there is little to be seen on the surface, so much is happening out of sight. There is still tending to be done: watering, weeding, always watching for pests, fungus, other threats to the small life slowing wending its way to the surface, but there is nothing that can be done to rush the growth of those seeds – they have their own schedules and will break through the surface of the soil only when they are ready.
In the preparations, in the turning of the soil, the planting, the tending, and yes, the waiting, for many there comes a sense of peace, of oneness, that often is lacking in other parts of our lives. These small steps (and not so small, if there is much to be done to prepare the garden!) give space for the mind to roam, for seeds of thoughts perhaps long since planted to germinate and start to grow as well. Something about the fresh air, the sunlight, the immersion in nature seems to invite introspection.
We each have our own seeds, ideas or thoughts that we’ve gathered along the way, perhaps a teaching we’ve read, something we wanted to learn, or change about ourselves, perhaps something less well defined, a way of seeing the world, or a new perspective to contemplate. These seeds, too, need to be given the care and patience that we give to those in our gardens. Consider what a seed requires to germinate and take root. The right environment, a place that is fertile and that can provide a safe home for the seed, someplace for roots to sink down, a place where nourishment can be drawn up those roots. It requires warmth and light, which encourage the new seedling to the surface, to break through the darkness and, firmly anchored, to grow. And time, because while some seeds can be forced, most will emerge only when they are ready.
How much of the above can be applied to ourselves, when new seeds have been planted in our minds? If we are receptive and ready, we provide that nurturing environment, and slowly roots form, and those seeds, of teachings, of new experiences, of new ways of looking at the world or of being within it, slowly grow and come into the light. Often that happens without us ever thinking about it. The transformation occurs deep down, and until the seedlings break through, we may not have an awareness of what has been growing within until suddenly it is simply there. Other times, though, we know that seed has been planted, and, like the seeds sown in our freshly turned gardens, we want so much to see the growth right away. The hardest thing to do is to wait for it to grow in its own time.
It may be that, in the joyous return of spring, in nature and in the work that we can choose to see as drudgery or as a gift of time, within a place of calm and peace, we can find the inspiration that will make it possible to nurture and welcome those seeds that have been planted deep within, while we eagerly anticipate the new growth bringing beauty and fullness to our gardens.