(First of all, let me apologize for missing yesterday’s column – we had some pretty severe “internet issues” which made posting anything become a fool’s errand. Nonetheless – here we are today!)
I love solstices and equinoxes. Far beyond what the weather feels like outside, these days – every three months – catapult us officially into a new season. Granted, when it turns December 20 or so, you can bet that Winter has already staked a claim up here in the Northland. And even when summer solstice arrives on June 20th, the season is almost half over for us.
But I like the vernal equinox perhaps the best. “Vernal” from the Latin, vernalis, which is properly the Latin, “ver,” meaning spring, just becomes a fancy way to say it. So with daylight savings time and the vernal equinox, our expectation is that Winter has finally crawled back into its cold, icy cave, and we are once again free to frolic and enjoy what the new birth of spring brings to us! Ah – it should be days of bike rides, and long walks, and kite flying and even a picnic in the warm March sun – especially this year, when the snow has melted a good while back and the ground is not wet and mushy. Spring was meant to be used, and fawned over, with lots of leisure and sitting out on the back patio finally, with the chair cushions carried up from the basement storage – why, we could even open the windows of the gazebo and let the fresh spring air clear out the must of winter.
But you see – even as we talk about the first day of spring, dark forces lurk just under the surface. It materializes in the form of a short, cute, blue-eyed Scandinavian, who, like all good Scandinavians worth their salt, views a beautiful day as the opportunity – not to frolic in the joy of a change of season – but to finally get going on the lawn work outside, sucking the leaves out of the egress window wells, putting down the weed barrier before things spring up, pruning the hydrangeas and the clematis and the grasses, and yes, opening up the gazebo, and wiping everything down, and vacuuming the floor and washing the windows and…don’t forget to take the covers off the plants that have been protected all winter. C’mon! Finish that cup of coffee, and smile! There is WORK to be done! This isn’t time to linger over the crossword puzzle! Why, that’s what spring is for – working. Cleaning. Pruning. And lots more. No use wasting the day with idle relaxation outdoors. We will breathe in the good spring air along with the 50 tons of dust we will create as we push away the remnants of winter.
It’s not unlike the feeling you can imagine the Children of Israel had when they were in Egypt, and it was announced that it was time to build another tribute to the Pharaoh. Yippee. Can’t wait.
My only hope comes in the forecast for today. Around noon, of just after I get back from getting my haircut, my friends in the weather department are predicting the winds will pick up. Now, when they say the winds will increase in this land, they mean we can expect a good steady wind of 30-5 miles an hour, with gusts of around 45-50 mph. There goes the kite flying, and the picnic. But there also probably goes the pruning, since we are better off waiting to trim dead things until the day when they won’t blow immediately into a yard four doors down. I can guess we will still suck out the leaves, and put down the herbicide – and take the little Styrofoam cans off the new plants… but the forecast also promises rain tomorrow, for the first time since last October, and so that will eliminate a two-day work fest outside.
Of course, I did notice her in the laundry room, eyeing the cupboards, and mumbling something about “might as well clear all of this out too…”
WE indeed are creatures of habit, even if the habits are different for each of us. The challenge comes when intention collides with intention, as spending the day enjoying the spring comes up again spending the day using the spring to get something else done. I’m not lazy, but I do know that there is always time to get things done, not all on one day, but another time. I didn’t even mention staining the egress walls and the inside of the gazebo… But it’ll all get done, and hopefully in the right time, even if it is not right now.
I hope you enjoy your spring cleanup, as much as I do. And be sure to take a little time – just a little – to romp and frolic in this new season before us.
Word for the day: quadrivium. Pronounced kwa-DRIV-ee-oom. It’s kind of a fancy word that has two meanings. Most literally, it comes from the Latin, quadri, meaning “four” (of course), and via, meaning “way, or road.” A quadrivium, therefore, is always found at a four-way stop. It’s where four roads meet. Of course, if there are only three roads, it’s known as a trivium. However, in the middle ages, Quadrivium was expanded to mean the four “arts” of the university. More than just studying one course, in a college, like medicine or theology, a student at university was to embrace a wide range of studies, and the four key ones – the quadrivium – were arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music. That’s an interesting choice of four, but it apparently meant to train different parts of the brain. A little different than the three “R”" we grew up with…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.