My Mom says she can hear the plants growing in springtime. Standing outside, boots streaked with mud and sweat clinging to the back of my neck, I think she might be right. It looks to storm later, the sky a funny silver I don’t trust, and I want to get the rest of this soil amended before it hits. I don’t know the name for the tool I’m using here, I took it from my parent’s garage and then I broke the handle*, but it has four or five curved fangs of rusted metal that I’ve been hacking at the dirt with for the last hour and a half while alternately heaving bags of compost and potting soil into the bed. It isn’t that hard of work, but the air is very still in anticipation of the weather to come, and so I am filmy—not quite sweaty, but not quite cool, either. Reminds me of New Orleans. I planted honeysuckle last year in this same bed and it never bloomed, but then again, it didn’t die either. New Orleans gave me filmy skin, and also honeysuckle fever, so that now no good weather is complete without that sickly sweet smell drifting through the air, and I planted accordingly. No growth last year, but this year I can tell already they’re going to explode, and the yard will be awash in those delicate, stark white flowers, more potent than a thousand perfumeries. I can hear them too, right now, in the quiet before the rain comes back. Dashes of light green pepper the vine, promising growth anew, holding secrets that will be revealed, I feel sure, come summer.
Born a daughter of spring, it’s a season I feel particularly beholden to—it has a dreamy quality I love, where trees burst into flowers and the ground erupts into green, but is also marked by a frenetic energy that I feel pulled by, a magnetic draw towards awakening out of the deep sleep of winter. Easter is in this season, a reminder of renewal I love. And it’s the season that marks how I grow, too—it’s the season I look down at my roots and up at my branches and say I have done well, I am here and strong and getting bigger.
Spring has come early this year, not so much earlier than other years, but early enough that I am already dreading the long, last hot days of August that will bleed into September, where the fern-filled world I love so much will be burnt dry by the sun.
Rachelle and I are going to build bat boxes. Or I am going to build bat boxes—she agreed it was a good idea. I want them to come live in our yard and eat the billions of tiny bug bodies that will fill the air once the real good weather comes. It didn’t get cold enough this year to kill any of them, you know. We are doomed to having bug-filled smiles after bike rides to the farmer’s market, doomed to breathing them on accident when we laugh too hard during barbecues.
What I love about spring too is the smell, the earthy damp of new life born of seeds, fostered by the dying bodies of the plants that came before them. Winter here is too much filled with decay, the rainy scent of mulched leaves, but spring takes that smell and lightens it with the heady scent of dark green. I’ll get inside and wash my hands, dig the dirt out from under my fingernails, but it will still hover around the periphery of my nose—that green smell.
Before I quit for the day I sit on the edge of the porch and throw the ball for Cedar in earnest—I’ve been tossing it half-heartedly while working on the soil, and now I give him my full attention, until the bluebird comes and all three of us are startled to find the other there. He throws open his wings to put on the breaks, tossing his wee feet out in a pantomime of a predator, and then decides this is no time for fight. He carries on flying, landing in the bumpy pine at the back of the yard, tweedling hot. His feathers reflect the sky, a little, so he shimmers in the gossamer light of an almost born spring storm. Cedar is interested, for a second, and then we play ball until my shoulder hurts.
Boots I leave on the porch, they are chewed in the back where Cedar took to them and so muddy even I know I shouldn’t bring them in. The sliding glass door rakes open when I tug, leaving a barely wide enough space to get through—it’s been sticking, the track is off. I squeeze in, call for the puppy. He is outside getting splashed by the first drops of rain, the very edge of the storm moving in. Come on buddy, I say, and as I rake the door back shut, I hear a cacophony outside—rain hissing, plants sucking in rain, an audible pop as new buds appear from thin air, branches whooshing out to meet the rain, the quiet creak of flowers as they open their eyes on this new, wet world.
Inside it is a quiet gray, and all I can hear is the hum of my own engine and the gentle snore of my sweet puppy, who has already fallen asleep in the corner of the kitchen.