“The Promise of Spring,” March 8, 2015

I took a walk around my yard looking for signs of spring. It’s a small yard, but it surprises me.

Sure enough, the lavender under the window was tinged with tiny purple flowers. The succulents by the pool were sending up bright orange spikes. And the vine that climbs a wall around the front porch was draped with fat red blooms.

We live in the desert on a hill overlooking Las Vegas. Spring in the desert is somewhat softer spoken, less showy than in some places. But it is spring none the less. And I’m hungry for it.

I suspect you might be, too.

Winter has a beauty and a purpose all its own. I don’t know what that purpose is, but I’m sure it has one, if only to make us appreciate other seasons. I love family gatherings at the holidays. The warmth of a fire on a cold winter night. The wonder of snowflakes falling from heaven to earth.

But winter can act like an uninvited guest that doesn’t have enough sense to know when to leave. Some years I wish I could send it packing. This is one of those years.

As a child, I could hardly wait to spend spring break with my grandmother on her farm in the mountains of North Carolina.  The weather was not always springlike. One year it snowed so deep I couldn’t get home in time to go back to school. Come to think of it, that might have been my favorite spring.

But most years, springtime in those mountains was a blessed reprieve from the bitter cold prison of winter. We shared a ritual, the two of us, my grandmother and I.

“Let’s go see if the dogwood’s in bloom,” she’d say. Then we’d bundle up as need be, grab our walking sticks and take off up the mountain together.  She would lead and I would follow, talking as we walked, the way walkers often do, about everything and nothing: Trees in bud, sprigs of grass popping up in patches of snow, birds singing  “Hallelujah, we’re alive!”

Just when I thought I couldn’t walk another step, we’d come to a clearing where a dogwood tree lived its life with no apparent purpose, but to be beautiful and shelter birds and bear witness to the passage of seasons and the persistence of life.

Each spring when we made our dogwood pilgrimage, that tree would be in full bloom, a perfect mass of soft pink blossoms like a sky filled with clouds at sunset.

Far more than the tree, I loved the time with my grandmother. What else are rituals for, if not to remind us of who we are and how much we are loved and to make sure we never forget?

My grandmother left this world long ago. Her farm was sold and much of the mountain has been subdivided. I’m not sure if the dogwood is still there. But I see them clearly _ that tree and my grandmother. They live in my memory forever in bloom.

These days, I’m trying to make new rituals, new memories to be  revisited in years to come.

Recently, I heard the call of a mourning dove, a sure sign of spring. Any day now we’ll see quail chicks darting across the yard. My husband and I might take a drive to see wildflowers. And soon I’ll go to California, to see my grandchildren.

They’re too little to know a lot about seasons and rituals, aside from Christmas and birthdays. But I want them to know what I learned as a child, that seasons change and we change, too, but every day is a chance to celebrate the gift of life.

I want them to remember who they are and how much they are loved. If I’m lucky, maybe they will remember me, too. I can’t guarantee it. But for now, when they spot a UPS van, they shout, “Look! It’s Nana’s truck!”

Just when we think winter will never end, a tree blooms in memory and hope begins to sing, “Hallelujah, we’re alive!”

What’s your ritual for spring?


  1. LindaLee Bassett says

    Love spring!!! My dogwood is not in bloom yet but my lilacs are!! They’re my fave..and they are right next to the forsythia and bridalwreath so all make quite a showing!!!flowering pear in the grocerystore parking lot is always a first sign!!In Michigan it was the arbutus..reminds me of my mother.

  2. Carla Willis says

    Sharon, my favorite thing about spring is that tax season will soon be over!! And like Kate, baseball! I’m just so very thankful you are still here writing your column! When you wrote at the end of the year that your column was to no longer be, I was so sad! But you have returned to our paper. So thankful you found other publishing arrangements!! Bless you and your family. I hope you are doing well.

  3. Linda Foster says

    Love the waiting of spring to come..the earth blooming with color…love your column too

  4. Kate Sciacca says

    Spring…. Spring training, rookies, little league, t-ball, bad umpires, “LENS CRAFTERS… ONE HOUR, WE’LL WAIT!!!”, slides, steals, sacrifice… Spring. ?

  5. Annette Panek says

    I look for the first robin (love their “songs”), the first leaves on the trees, and the gorgeous crocuses, daffodils, and tulips.

  6. Spring is my favorite time of year! And not just because I was born on the first day of Spring either! It’s a time of new beginnings, new life, when everything comes alive again. One of my favorite things is just to take the back roads into our Hoosier countryside & see the redbuds & dogwoods in full bloom. On a drive through Brown County last week, I saw hillsides bursting in yellow with the daffodils beginning to bloom. Like I said…I love Spring! ???

  7. Thank you Sharon for reminder of spring . We live in the eastern part of US and snow was not that bad this year and many times I saw some signs of spring in last month but it was too early and last showers of snow almost ruined it because unexpected guests are thrown out hungry . I was one time an unwanted guest and almost two days no body gave me food and my stomach hurt so bad and I wanted to feed at least 100 people when I go back to my home where no guest sleep hungry ,even I can stay hungry if unable to cook extra food to feed an unwanted guest . I just prayed to stay hungry and could feel the pain of those poor people who beg to fill their belly as food is such a basic need .Now with rain we also can see some signs of spring . Thank you Sharon for sharing such a sweet memory of spring with your grand mom . I want to be just like your grand mom . And your grand kids are so lucky to have you .

  8. Linda Park says

    Memories of the spring time of my life. Spring let’s me know that God still has love for his children. Renewing the earth.

  9. Jackie Conklin says

    Once when I was at my lowest, feeling hopeless and sad. I went out to my back yard and saw the most beautiful flower blooming. I went to it and got on my knees with tears in my eyes I knew then that there is hope. That’s been over 40 years and I still think of that flower in the Spring.

    Thank you Sharon for all of your heartfelt stories.

  10. Pretty much the same walk about as yours. Once we spot the first robin, I have to get my shoes on and walk around our yard looking for signs of spring. I find a stick blown down from a tree and scrape the piles of leaves away (because it’s useless to rake leaves in fall around here the way the wind always blows new ones in their place) to find the crocuses. And seed catalogs. At first sign of spring, I smack my head and say, “We should have started seeds indoors this year!” Then we find the catalogs and pick out way too many seeds that we want to plant in our garden. This year I”m trying bird egg beans– one of my favorites from my childhood.

    Happy spring!

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