Monday, March 10, 2014

and I thought childbirth was life changing...

yeah, I know.

Unless you've recently relocated from a land of 10 months of warmth with 2 months of chilly thrown in for good measure. A land where you need nothing more in the winter than a really good quality denim jacket or a favorite oversized sweatshirt over a really cool t-shirt. And if you work outside in those two months, you might actually invest in a nice fleece zippered jacket. To go over the cool t-shirt and oversized sweatshirt.

None of which do anything to keep you warm here in Michigan, for long. If you're lucky and you find a parking spot close to your destination, you're good. If it's any further away than the first two spaces, you're screwed. As in, get your ultra insulated coat, which is over you zippered fleece, which is over your sweatshirt and long sleeved cuddle duds thermals. And gloves. DON'T FORGET YOUR GLOVES. And a scarf comes in really handy when you need to cover your mouth and nose because the wind chill can effin FREEZE YOUR NOSTRILS TOGETHER. And that's not cute at all.

Until the pull of spring grabs at your being. And you lie in bed and hear the cardinal male singing his love songs and the crows are cawing and then you sit up and see--4 feet of snow on the ground and a forest of dormant trees. Oh the sun is shining and with that you're blinded with the realization you've awakened in another level of hell--not the 'mid-summer in south texas' hell, just the opposite--the '6 months of winter in Michigan' hell.

As a Texan to the bone, this kind of living is mysterious. Why in the world would anyone want to live in these kinds of conditions for most of the year??!

I wake some days feeling the pull of the coming spring to my core. I am moved to gather seeds I've collected over the past year, organize them and plan… and then I look outside and see 4 feet of snow with a wind chill in negative numbers. My hands long to dig in the ground, to feel top layers warmed by the sun while deeper ones are cool.

To feed that need, I buy bulbs at the store. I buy bulbs already growing and bulbs in bags and in boxes. I buy bags of soil and pots. The smell of the purchased soil has a faint tinge of a chemical smell, so different from the dirt outside, so I pretend I am gardening outside… the warmth of the early spring sun on my shoulders, the last of the cool breezes causing goose bumps in the shade. The buds of the native grape vines swell; the echinacea has awakened and broken ground with deep magenta leaflets;

the comfrey's pointed fingerling leaves have made way through winter dead stems and old winterized leaves,

and borage seedling have sprouted everywhere with their little mickey mouse rounded fuzzy leaves…

By this time I would have gathered chickweed that refused to grow inside the raised garden and instead grew beside it,

filled a jar to the rim with its tiny trailing stems and leaves, then added olive oil to steep for future salve making. I would have also begun harvesting older comfrey leaves to jar and steep for salve.

I would have spent most of my time in the garden listening to the winged ones and their stories of their people. The mockingbird for sure would be patrolling his territory that surrounds the house and gardens and part of the next door neighbor's back yard. Woe to the stray mocker who would unintentionally fly across the invisible border… the war dance of mockingbirds is something incredible to watch. If you ever see two of them, face to face, hopping first one way then another, you are seeing the Dance of Territory. Take a few minutes out to watch it.

So I wait. For spring in Michigan. And wonder what it will hold...


Frankie Brost said...

Spring will come, and with it, glorious green the likes that central Texas never sees: Flowers bright and beautiful! Trees grande and branching. Brooks babbling with trout! You'll find new treasures in Michigan ...and love will draw you in to call this new place "home"!! (I am a central Texas girl transplanted in I feel your plight)...I hope you grow to love MI too..xox! (Ps...I see you like my tribe: Art Retreat on the Prairie! Have we met?)

Susan Raihala said...

Frankie's right. You'll appreciate it all the more when it arrives, sometime in May. Or maybe June. But it will arrive.

We had one summer in MI that lasted one day. The 4th of July. It got hot. And humid. And at 6:00 PM, a cold front came through. It was glorious. A year of long spring and long fall. After growing up in NC, I loved that year.

Shoveling 2 feet of snow...not so much.

You'll get used to the new rhythm of life, but it will take time. Trust.

Hastypearl said...

Ill send photos on my blog to satisfy and Ill say hello to the mockingbird for you. You are brave. You will settle. Laura