The bald eagle circles the river basin and returns to her nest at the top of the pine. The hungry eaglets chatter to her. Their squawks and squeals echo across the water.
Daylight is growing longer. My dog trots along beside me, sniffing the deer trails, lunging at the disappearing flash of rabbit tail. He’s just a year old, springy and deft – and today he is more attuned than usual, picking up on the new action and songs of the wild.
Back at home, the first green shoots of tulips are showing themselves along the path between my house and garage. They’ll be dusted in snow another time or two before stubborn winter gives way and spring bursts into full glory — but that’s not stopping us from dragging dusty lawn chairs from storage and setting them up in that patch of sun in the driveway where we’ll page through seed catalogs and dream about kneeling in a jungly July garden.
The boys are crafting slingshots and nunchucks from sticks at the edge of the woods. The phone rings inside the house. My instinct is to let it ring, but my grandmother’s health is declining, so I head for the door. It’s a telemarketing call from some company, but now I’m thinking of her.
Her legs have weakened so much this winter that she’s no longer able to transfer herself to or from her wheelchair. Her lungs are ridden with pneumonia, her mind with confusion. Yesterday she told my mother she was getting dressed and ready for a sports banquet that evening – my grandfather was involved with high school athletics for decades, but he’s been gone for five years.
I wonder if she knows we’re on the cusp of true springtime. I wonder if that matters anymore when you’re ninety-three years old and your rogue hands can’t screw a cap back on a plastic water bottle anymore, let alone clutch a watering can.
Does she hear the songs of the birds from the other side of the windowpane in her assisted living room? Does she know the robins have returned like always – like they did to her backyard maple on Saginaw Street, the one we used as a backdrop for dozens of family photos?
Does she know in a few weeks we’ll be busting her out of that place and parking her in the shade of the umbrella on my sister’s patio where she can watch the kids splash in the pool – where she’ll feel the pleasant breeze across her collarbone and smell the charred meats that sizzle and pop on the grill?
Come on, Spring. We need you here.
We need you so we can be alive again. We need you so we can put things in the earth — so the carrot and potato peels we’ve been piling up all winter can turn into something that nourishes us once more in the circle of life and living.
We need you because we’ve almost forgotten how sunshine feels on bare shoulders. How country music sounds through the open windows of the neighbor’s truck. How to float on our backs in the river inlet, lifting our chests above the chilly waters.
We need you. I need you.
Because Nana. Because Because Lily of the Valley. Because morning dew.
Because 92 glittering springtimes could never be enough — because we’ve never done a single one without her. Because on my knees in the dirt is the only posture my body knows to assume right now.
Please, Spring — come quickly.
Back outside, a mama robin circles around the willow bushes in my yard. I’ve been watching her for a week now. She is fat and round with eggs, hopping about in search of sticks or strings for her nest. She stops and looks at me for a long time, like she knows something, then flies to the cedars.
I wonder when she will taste the first fat worm from the thawing earth, or when she’ll begin her sit on those blue eggs in the deep basin of her nest.
Maybe it will be today.
Photo via Wikimedia