"Question: What is Spring?"
Growth in everything."
--- from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, "The May Magnificat"
|"Back Road, Early Spring"
gouache, by Chris Ousley
I must admit to not noticing much growth in these first few frosty days of spring, but Hopkins has me hopeful. I'm happy to search with all seriousness for any signs of growth -- any suggestions that the universe is still a place of persistent increase and expansion. I don't see it yet -- not in the snowy grass or the sky like steel or the chill I steadily feel in my feet and fingers -- but perhaps there are thousands of signs I just don't see. Perhaps there are small sprouts in seeds all around me, sort of shouting at me in a silent way, and perhaps the powers in the big trees along our streets are starting to move their inside muscles to make a new season's leaves. Maybe snakes and toads and tiny insects and springtime birds are starting to set up their new family situations. Maybe millions of miracles of growth are getting started as I sit on the couch, as I stand at our wide windows, as I walk across the grass that seems so sterile but may be bursting with new births. What do I know about growth in spring -- me, a guy who gives more attention to his laptop than to the springing up of healthy-looking life in March, a guy who gets more pleasure out of a poem on a lifeless page than the look of a lawn of greening-up grass? Perhaps I need to take myself outside sometimes and make myself stand still for several minutes - just stand still and be astonished by the signs of spirited life in these subdued but prospering first days of spring.