There's snow on top of ice on top of snow on ice out there, to a depth of a foot or more where it hasn't been shoveled. Clean has blanketed dirty, dirty has resurfaced, then clean again along with ice crystals formed in the cold rain.
It is the end of an impossible month. In my entire life, I've not witnessed anything quite like this winter.
I look out on it, shivering as I take in the scene, wondering if we shall ever witness spring again. Under those mounds, on what I still dream of as lawn, are rows of flower beds. Incredibly, I recall them. It seems impossible to consider their renaissance.
Can there ever again be green shoots spearing up -- tulips and daffodil swords, thick hyacinth blades -- thrusting through the granite earth, challenging the lifelessness of winter?
There are always unfamiliar growths sprouting under the bird feeder. Things I can't label, weeds to be looked at, speculated on, and pulled out. They rise annually out of seeds the birds have missed or ignored in favor of tastier morsels. They survive whatever depths of snow and ice winter has heaped over them. But they must be sacrificed in favor of the delicate shirley poppies that have first dibs to that soil, or other blooms such as delphiniums.
Beneath the laurel, where the small birds find sanctuary, are clumps of white violets. Each year, they spread into the lawn and are mowed with the grass. But they persist, having endured the harsh winter and triumphed over the sub-zero temperatures.
Foxgloves are content to remain covered until the danger of freezing and thawing is past. It is the thawing -- the baring of heart-leaves that damages. I meditate on all this.
As long as the snow covers them, they are warm and secure. Surviving and, yes, still keeping the ancient faith that spring will return. It always has, always will, in spite of human doubts.
For as old as the old earth is, the seasons have wheeled at their own pace, occasionally erratic, but always straightening out and flying right. Despite blizzards and droughts, floods and hurricanes, earthquakes and tornados -- earth survives.
And so I have to trust that spring will be here in good time, after what may be an eternally long 28 days of another bleak February.
She will burst on the scene as surely as the sun shines on the just and the unjust and the stars wheel across the midnight sky. And I will cheer her progress as I kneel on the damp ground once again and plunge my hands into the composted soil.
Earth keeps her ancient tryst, and so must I.