Remember Franklin Williams? A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Franklin, an arborist who died recently, leaving a legacy I remember each spring.
Several years ago, Franklin talked me out of hiring him to cut down my mayhaw tree, which looked to be on its last legs. He promised the tree would rebound, and it did, producing a cloud of tiny white blooms the following spring. The pleasure the mayhaw has continued to give us is a nice reminder of Franklin’s quiet faith in growing things.
My own faith in the resilience of nature is a lot shakier. Every winter, I look at the mayhaw’s gnarled canopy, as ugly as a claw, and doubt once more that its flowers will return. But last week, while standing at the mirror for my morning shave, I noticed a patch of white from the corner of my eye, turned toward the window and saw the mayhaw’s new blossoms for the season. Snowdrop flowers frosted all the branches. How could such a gift have arrived so suddenly, like a parcel left on the stoop?
More than likely, the mayhaw hadn’t bloomed as quickly as I thought it did. It had probably blossomed over days, beyond my awareness as I zipped up and down the driveway on my way to work, the grocery, the dozen other obligations that consume a week.
Spring’s approach is easy to overlook, especially in the groggy week after Daylight Saving Time forces us to lose an hour. The time change is like a skipped heartbeat in the season’s calendar, leaving us vaguely confused and a little light-headed.
To preserve the mechanism of my chiming clock in the living room, it’s best not to wind the hands back one hour, but forward by 11, a little exercise that gives me the illusion of traveling into the future.
Like most people, I tend to live mentally in the future, anyway, charting the week with scribbles on a to-do list that grows even longer than the new spring’s lengthening days.
Spring is a heavy task master. I will need to get the lawnmower serviced, scrub the patio, mulch the flower beds and plant the new citrus tree that waits in its pot on the porch, like a child begging for adoption.
But amid its assignments, spring also tugs at my sleeve, demanding that I do nothing more ambitious than simply recognize its growing presence. It’s why there are more walkers in my neighborhood this month, strolling down the sidewalk, enjoying their liberation from overcoats and welcoming the chance, on good days, to see winter in retreat.
Our terrier confuses all walkers with the postman, that solemn bearer of bills, and barks a warning throughout the house. But I try to tell him that there are other walkers bringing better tidings — the carolers of spring, which officially arrives on Friday. Consider that your good news for the day.
Danny Heitman is on Twitter, @Danny_Heitman.