It always starts where you can’t see


Snow melted away Monday under a cold, gray rain; and I saw their heads poking sharp and green through the wet earth.

Then the rain turned to snow and fell thick and fast and those green spikes are buried again in winter.

But I know they are under there, still forcing themselves up and up through the ice.

Today it is cold. Frost formed inside the car windshield again this morning; ice crunched underfoot; my fingers turned numb before I made it inside. Schools are delayed, and temperatures hover in single digits. The cold is fierce, and the mid-February weariness is settling in. Spring is still so far away, winter more cruel as the season progresses.

But I remember their growing and the soft new leaves of the Lambs’ Ears under the snow and I breathe deeply of the frosty air and know it’s coming: warm winds and sunshine and green and color and life where all is white and gray and dead today.

I’m remembering, too, how the snow fell without stopping last year, whirling and blowing and piling high on our deck outside our Maryland apartment. Feet fell, and more came, and I watched it come and wondered at it and waited by the phone, waited for the change that we’d been needing so long.

It’s been a year now since my phone rang in the automotive aisle at Walmart, since the two weeks of shoveling snow and filling boxes and reading rental ads that precluded our move to Western Pennsylvania.

My phone rang, and I tried hard not to cry there in front of car light bulbs. I called him at work, heard the relief and the excitement in his voice, and very nearly lost control. The man further down the aisle looked at me strangely. I guess I understand why.

But on that early February afternoon – a Friday – our two-years-long winter of waiting and looking and making plans and scrapping them again finally ended.

When we said ‘yes’ to the doctorate, I thought I was saying ‘no’ to journalism. I thought I’d be working as a receptionist, writing for myself at night to let the words escape. There were no jobs at newspapers. We all knew that. Especially not in a small university town far from any city.

But I weighed the options and found this one best and scanned classifieds while we waited for his application to be accepted. I was hoping for a doctor’s office. And on one day in January I mourned the loss of my profession and in a sort of self-pitying moment looked up the journalism jobs website, to prove how hopeless it was.

God laughed, I think.

Because it was there, and in the same small corner of the state were I’d been scanning the “help wanted” ads, and I frantically applied and held my breath and drove through snowy ridges to visit and wanted it even more until I stood in the automotive aisle in Walmart trying not to cry.

We moved in the middle of February, the weekend after the second blizzard pummeled the region. Snow fell as we drove, and exhaustion hung heavy.

But it was the end of our winter, and spring came soon with melting snows and flowers. March was almost warm.

It’s been a year, and it’s been fast and it’s been good. And now green shoots are struggling through the frozen ground even as the cold winds blow and another winter is ending soon.

February’s always dark and cold but the sun rises just a few minutes earlier each day and you can’t see the miracles unfolding underground.

You never see when it starts. Just when the growing’s almost finished and the story’s ready to tell.

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1 Comment

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One response to “It always starts where you can’t see

  1. In our little corner of the world here in NC,the winter has been cold and way to long.Just this week I saw buds on the pear trees and my periwinkle is coming up green undreneath the leaves of fall.Thank you Heather for reminding me of the sure hope of spring.

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