When spring stirs in Montana

Today I went out to look at the repairs that are needed on the chicken coop and the lamb's pen. I walked out into the morning and didn't need a jacket. The dregs of winter are all around me: piles of slush melting into mud, snow- streaked hills, snow-covered mountains. Boots and mittens and winter coats are piled by the door. The skis are still out. We used them last week. But the sun, the sun is warm. Even the air is warm today.

I find myself looking at the clutter of winter things that need repairs, repainting, tidying up. There are projects all around me that have been waiting for just this weather, but instead of feeling bustling and efficient, I just feel peaceful.

I sit on a straw bale, still golden with late-summer color, and the yellow kitty jumps on my lap. My lap is full of purring gold-and-white fur. We sit together in the quiet morning, enjoying the sun. It warms the silver-gray boards of the pens. All around, the long, bleached grass of winter lies flattened in the sun. Everything is tan and white under the deep, clear-blue arch of the sky. The birds are beginning to sound like spring. Not a full chorus, not yet; that comes later. Just a bit of spring song here and there. I hear the killdeer cry from the next field. I sit with my cat, the sun warm on my back.

When I first came to Montana I waited for the last snow to fall before I allowed myself to be overcome with spring. Some puritanical impulse in me said, "Wait. Don't get excited. It will snow again next week. Don't let yourself be disappointed." How foolish! It took me two or three years to realize that the snow and cold are just part of the spring here.

Now I am wiser. On days of snow and cold, or bitter winds that make your eyes water, I stay inside and get things done. And it is a good thing for me that we have those days, or I would never get anything accomplished. For when a day of spring sun comes, I find myself standing entranced, unaware of time, watching a bird fly into the sky till I can't see it any longer.

Or, I walk with my dog across the winter-bleached fields, clambering through the barbed wire, winding my way through the leafless trees to the river. There I sit, on an ancient, gray cottonwood log, my golden dog leaning on my leg, the sun on my back, caught in the magic of the moving water and all that blue - the blue, blue sky, and between the tawny banks, the blue and sparkling river. I don't think or worry or sing. I just sit, listening to the water, the quiet, absorbed in the day, the spring.

Or I sit on a straw bale, a purring cat on my lap, sun on my back.

Early spring.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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