The breezy air was just about perfect as I rode down the wide bike path along the strip of neatly groomed grass in the neighbourhood of Newbury Park. I breathed in the California air, scented with spring blooms and couldn’t stop the stream of thoughts going through my head …’ These hills are so beautiful…this weather is perfect…how can this place be so nice…it’s SO beautiful!’
Sprawling hills wearing a coat of mottled spring green. White stucco houses, with arched doorways and turret entrances tucked safely into their comforting folds.
A peaceful shopping plaza, waterfall bubbling down into a frog pond.
I spotted the tiled sign with the scrolled letters ‘Encanto’ , spanish for ‘Charm’, and knew that was the sign I was almost at my temporary home.
Charming is what this neighbourhood is. Picture perfect. The kind that almost feels too good to be true.
So different from the hot dusty hills of Manchay I left behind in Lima Peru. So different from the gloomy grey days I left behind in Ottawa as spring struggled to make her arrival.
Earlier today I opened my inbox to a picture from home of the park just a few blocks from home. The spring snow melt had overflowed the Rideau river…and it was clear that the park and the soccer field had fought a losing battle with the river. The bare trees looked dark and leafless…waiting…waiting…for a new spring coat.
And for the few weeks I was home in between Lima summer heat…and California spring…I heard it…and felt it in the air around me…the LONGING FOR SPRING. For the snow to melt, for the ground to soften, for the sun to shine! The gardeners waiting to get their hands in the soft earth, kids waiting to shed their jackets, students waiting for their daily dose of Vitamin D, so many waiting for relief from winter blues.
Sometimes I forget HOW LONG spring takes to come. And isn’t it just easier to spend 5 hours in the air and find spring color and sunshine somewhere else? Just
avoid the flooded paths, and gloomy days…the in between?
Maybe, yes. My heart IS grateful for this moment, for taking in this season of ‘Instant Spring’.
But I also have felt the exhilaration as the first spreading rays of sun begin to win the battle over the winter chill in Ottawa. When the puddles begin to shrink, and the robins bravely touch down, and the birds let out their tentative song. When the first plucky crocus pushes it’s splash of yellow sunshine up through the snow like it’s joining ranks with the battle against the cold. When the bikes come out and the path is dry enough for the first chilly ride. When rain boots replace wool liners, fingers come out of their mittened hiding, and hats can be tucked away in the box marked ‘Winter Wear’.
When the first leaves courageously push their way onto the tip of the barest of branches, and the blossoms join not far behind. When the musty smell of earth is traded for apple blossom and lilac perfume, and my students are shedding their layers and shrieking with delight at a dandelion discovery.
And I want to remember that feeling in the seasons…the times in life when I am not given ‘Instant Spring.’ When I’m not taken 30,000 feet above the flooded parks and gloomy skies and transported to sunny, charming, California hills. When I’m waiting…waiting….like those bare tree branches.
(although they tell me the green is short lived around here….the hills are quickly turning bare and brown…and the waiting will begin for the morning mist or hint of rain …)
I want to remember that sometimes the waiting…the longing….Makes the bird song louder, the lilac perfume sweeter, and the kiss of sun bring even more life. The JOY richer. And if I need a reminder to keep hanging on when the wait stretches ahead….there is a Book that reminds me in Genesis 8:22 that ‘While the earth remains, Seedtime…shall not cease.”…spring WILL come. That Book also reminds me that fear and doubt will fight a losing battle when the rays of Hope shine in…
“Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield…
our heart is glad in Him…”
“…Let us press on to acknowledge Him.
As surely as the sun rises, He will appear;
He will come to us … like the spring rains
that water the earth.”
Psalm 33:20 — Hosea 6:3
No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. ~ Hal Borland