Winter slips into spring like toes dipping into warm water. We don’t know if we can believe it. Will we freeze?
Sounds like those of you in the Northeast coast of the United States are nowhere near spring, except in days fluttering off the calendar. A foot of snow on the first day of March? You won’t want to hear about how heart-stopped the billowy white clouds were against the blue sky in Seattle.
The other day, while walking with the Chef, we spotted the first purple crocus, amidst beauty bark. I stooped to pick it up. Little Bean sat in the Baby Bjorn kicking delightedly against the Chef’s belly. She turned toward me and I offered her nose the crocus, to smell. She tried to eat it, her mouth open wide like a baby bird waiting for the first worm of the day. (I didn’t let her eat it, by the way.) I know that crocuses have no discernible smell. I just wanted to her drink it in — spring is coming.
Soon, there will be warm air blowing through the windows and wafting the white curtains. Can you believe that someday we will walk around in sleeves pushed up our arms, ice cream dripping onto our fingers, and lemonade with fresh rosemary waiting?
No, I can’t quite feel it either. The heater is still rattling behind me, the light is only creeping slowly into the morning, and we all have jackets sitting slouched on the back seat of the car, just in case the air grows too cold for our walks.
We’re in the nether region, neither here nor there. It’s no longer full winter here (sorry, New York and Boston), but it’s certainly not spring. The trees are bare, like cold hands eager to feel the air without gloves. Strong shoots of green appear in places, but mostly, the dirt yields only mud right now. We’re not there yet.
This time, this potent time of longing, feels like a slow thawing, dripping and dripping, starting to open. It’s only after you start to thaw that you feel the freezing behind you.
I’ve been thinking about Emily Dickinson this evening, the great and granite balm, the toughest woman I know (if only through her words). This one came back again.
“After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs
The stiff Heart questions, was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?
The Feet, mechanical, go round –
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
A Wooden way
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –
This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First — Chill — then Stupor — then the letting go –”
I am trying to thaw. My god, this has been a hard year.
I’m fine. And I don’t want to explain. Life is more hilarious and sure than ever. Little Bean sat up on her own today, for the first time, swaying on her legs and correcting with sweeps of hands in the air. The Chef made roast pork, which he had brined overnight, with roasted carrots so sweet they brought tears to my eyes. We are, without a doubt, happy and here.
But some years are too painful to feel them all, as you live them. Later, it comes back.
So tomorrow, I will stand at the stove, feeling the low heat caress my face, and stir the baby leeks we bought at the farmers’ market, in butter and oil, with just a pinch of salt. Probably a few tears will slip in, too. I’ll wait, tempted to take them too early, and let them cook, slowly, until they are nearly melted, a soft smeared mess. Maybe some fresh mozzarella cheese, in shreds I will tear with my hands. A few splashes of balsamic vinegar, dark against the white. And wait, until they have all become something new, together.
Maybe by the time I am ready to eat them, it will be spring around here.
And you? How will you eat leeks?