Growing up in southern California as I did, the weather was either hot and dry or cold and dry. Between droughts, that is, and not cold by Wyoming standards, but in SoCal, 50s is considered cold weather and the sweaters and down coats make their appearance. Rain was an occasional phenomenon that mostly occurred around Thanksgiving and Christmas and I only ever saw it snow once: coming out of a Tex Ritter concert in San Gabriel with my parents when I was 8 or 9. It was pretty magical. Even pretty and magical. And while I have really enjoyed Laramie’s four seasons I have to admit I have been a little annoyed with this years’ manic-depressive pattern that couldn’t seem to make up its mind whether to be winter or spring.
The weather has been right in line with my own thinking. Turning 70 as I did this year, I have had a hard time deciding if I am young (in my head, anyway), middle-aged or old. I think I am going to settle for upper-middle-aged, kind of like the weather being winter-spring: we both have days when we wallow in one or the other.
One thing, however, that Laramie and L.A. have in common is the markers that define the change of season. Did you notice? It’s not especially the temperature or even the precipitation. It’s easier to note in this small town than it is in the asphalt and concrete canyons of L.A. where the “river” is a concrete channel with a thin strip of green scum that runs down the center of the “river bed.” Instead, it is the rising energy of life renewing itself. Did you feel the earth heave a sigh and, like the rest of us realize barefootin’ weather was back? Did you see the trees start to turn green the next week? It’s really an amazing phenomenon. One week everything is grey and dead-looking and seemingly overnight there is new green. I especially noticed it on all the lilacs bushes around town. The next week, the elms and cottonwoods were leafing out. It really is amazing. And magical.
It reminds me of one winter when I lived in Lake Arrowhead with my then husband and our three children. It was the hardest winter they had seen in a century. I had three small children, the oldest in second grade but unable to attend school because the schools, along with most of the roads, were snowed in. My husband couldn’t get up the mountain from work and the fire department was bringing food and fire wood in by jet ski every other day. My extra car was buried under 6 feet of snow for three months.
I grew really tired of all the greyness. At what felt like the end of my rope I looked out the window one day and saw a robin sitting on a naked branch of a birch tree, singing his heart out. Gaia sent a small little note of encouragement and my heart and mind were lightened with the knowledge that we had gotten through and warmer days were ahead. Sure enough within the week the snow-plows got the roads cleared and my little family was reunited. A week later the birch trees were turning green. I haven’t seen a robin since. Not anywhere.
Miracles happen around us all the time, but we have forgotten how to see them because we have forgotten how to appreciate them and be grateful for them. And while each season shows forth its own miracles, I personally think spring is the best miracle of the year. I think our ancestors did too, which is why Beltane/May Day celebrations are the most enjoyable celebrations in the pagan, predominately agricultural, calendar. May is the month of joy, of release, of renewing life, whether of the soil, plant or animal kingdoms. May is the beginning of barefootin’ season, of the Goddess in all her fertile beauty. May is the month of promise. I’ve always felt like the new year should begin on the first of May with the rising energy of the new life that surrounds us instead of in the harsh, dead time of winter. So, take some time to watch the spring miracle happen and smile and say “Thanks, Mom.” Trust me: She will smile back at you.
Jo Aelfwine: Stirring the cauldron for more than 50 years.