A Whole New Spring

I’ve always loved and appreciated spring. Who doesn’t? And of course, each spring, we become aware once again of the cycles of nature, the rebirth after a long, and in some places cold winter, the green bursting out on the tree branches and pushing up from the earth. But this spring, because of the pandemic combined with the shelter-in-place orders, I’m aware of spring in a much, much deeper way.

When I first noticed the tiny green slivers appearing on the branches of the sour gum on our street, I stopped and marveled at them. I’ve noticed them in passing before, but I don’t think I’ve ever stopped just to marvel at these tiny slivers of green, which over the next weeks will grow, first into tiny replicas of that particular tree’s mature leaves, then gradually to full size.

Something from nothing, I thought, gazing for several minutes, taking in the entire length of the branch and the abundance of potential foliage. What I am witnessing here is the creation of life. Spring is not simply about renewal. It’s about creation as well. Each of these tiny numbs is created from scratch and each contains the cells of the full-grown leaf. And just as in humans or other animals, these cells will multiply until this leaf has assumed its full form and function.

Trees give birth. Every fall, their leaves turn brown and drift down to earth. And every spring the trees bear new leaves, which mature and grow, until their life cycle is complete. Each leaf I see is not a resurrection of last year’s leaf, but a new creation.

Appreciating this vast system of rebirth for the first time, I understood as well that I was a part of all this. That trees and I share so much more than I had ever imagined. I have always thought of trees as other. Lovely and essential, of course, but still other. Beautiful and amazing, yes, but nothing like me or any other human.

Now, during the pandemic, by paying attention and slowing down enough to grasp the magnitude of what trees do each spring, I invited the universe to speak to me in a way it had never spoken before. Or perhaps it was the quiet and lack of commotion on the streets that allowed me to hear the universe speaking for the first time. Whatever the reason, I was suddenly alive to so much life. And to the realization that I am part of this life.

I might be sheltering in place, seeing very, very few people, either in person (only my husband and son and his family) or on Zoom, but I have never felt less alone. The Corona Virus has taken away, yes indeed. But it is also giving me gifts. By offering me the opportunity to slow down enough to gaze at those initial hints of new life on the trees in my neighborhood, it has allowed me to understand just how far from alone I am.

On a Berkeley Wall

3 thoughts on “A Whole New Spring”

  • Jane, I always enjoy your thoughts about the small things, seen and unseen, that are all around us. We just have to be aware and settle ourselves. After reading the amazing book by Richard Powers, The Over Story, I always think about what trees are saying to each other and what they are trying to communicate to us.

    • Hello Linda,

      I recently read Powers’s book as well, and swooned at both the way he wrote and what he wrote about. He has helped me feel even more intimate with trees than ever before!

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