The Work and Cultivation of Spring

On the second or third day of spring last week, I stepped into our backyard to survey the melting snow and grass turning green from its winter dormancy. On the north side of our home, the lawn is in the shade of the house so snow from months ago is just now melting.

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

I looked at blackened Aspen leaves that weren’t raked up before the first snow of autumn last year. I walked through our dead kitchen garden that we were unable to winterize because of Frank’s visit to the ICU and subsequent recovery during the week we had planned on cleaning. I looked at seed pods and small branches that litter our yard from various wind and snowstorms. We have a lot of work to do in the next months before planting.

I’m reminded of the seasonal imagery I love so much. This past winter, I’ve been spending time reading and learning. Seeds are being planted and cultivated. I know that it takes time before I’ll see the fruits of these classes and experiences. In some ways, I love this season of quiet and growth. In other ways, I’m antsy to see what has taken root, what will grow from these experiences.

After walking around our disheveled yard, I’m also reminded that a seed isn’t planted and then suddenly grows on its own. Gardening takes work and cultivation. Dead growth needs to be cleared, the compost needs to be turned, the debris of winter raked and mulched.

I’d love to wake up on the first day of spring, look out the window, and see bulbs popping up and a ready-to-enjoy garden inviting me outside. I forget that getting our garden ready for spring takes a lot of effort. After a winter of quiet and rest, there’s a lot of work in the spring to get ready for summer.

I still have a lot of learning and unlearning to do on this journey. As much as I wish my own life’s season were as orderly and predictable as nature’s I’m learning that I can bounce from winter back to fall and skip to summer. And then there are the seasons that are specific to our own family and region – tax season and mud season and birthday season. (I love Addie Zierman’s thoughts on those other seasons: Break-Up, Freeze-Up and Other Understated Seasons.)

But I feel myself emerging from the quiet learning of winter. I’m ready to start raking and sorting and doing the work. While I’m in the garden, I’m able to imagine what I want to add or try each new season. Without spending the time doing the work, my imagination isn’t sparked in the same way it is as I’m actively pulling and cleaning.

I still have a lot of processing to do and I’m still holding my learning closely. But I love feeling the stirring of spring, the eagerness to sort out these ideas, and the energy to start cleaning up and preparing for the harvest.

What are you cultivating? What do you need to clean as you prepare for a season of harvest?


We woke up to the heat going on today. The high is going to be something in the mid-50’s, which seems too cold for September 12. This is just a snap – next week will be pleasant again. I love autumn and the coziness of winter, but am not quite ready to put away the water table and sandals.

Too cold!
Too cold!

Last night I wrapped our tomato plants with sheets, preparing for the worst forecast of snow, though we woke up to drizzle. It made me think about other areas of my life right now. I may not be ready to make certain decisions, to let go of ideas or hopes, to move on just yet, but it’s important to be ready, to prepare myself for the inevitable.

Wrapped tomatoes
Wrapped tomatoes

On the flipside, I am very ready for some things to start happening, to move to the next stage of a journey, to start new routines. I need to prepare for those, too. Now, it’s by waiting and resting in the moment. Sometimes it’s a more active waiting, but often it feels too passive. I’m trying to embrace the stage of waiting so that, when the times comes to get going, I’m ready.

As a natural planner, this small season has been a good challenge for me: The tension of being prepared, being ready, and letting things happen naturally in their own time.

Are you a planner? How do you prepare?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing.


My friend, Alexandra Kuykendall is doing a series on Advent reflections. I am honored to offer some thoughts on today’s reading:

At our house, we are preparing for Christmas. The outside lights are up (though not yet plugged in); tinsel and dollar-store ornaments decorate our two baby blue spruce in front. Our tree this year looks a bit different – ornaments hang from the top third, out of the reach of small, curious hands. In some ways, only decorating the top part of the tree is perfect. When we first got married, we decided to buy a souvenir ornament from each of our travels. We have the Liberty Bell, a thistle-snowflake representing the West Highland Way, a moose from Yellowstone, the Golden Gate Bridge, a carved nut from Botswana. Because we aren’t covering the entire tree, these ornaments are enough. Little did we realize that we had been preparing for this day…..    Read the rest over at Alex’s.