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welingerinwinterscarf

Scarf designed by Christiana Lambert for Knotty Tie, Co. in 2016 (sewn by an employee who is a resettling refugee).

I have all the words—and they’re just running rampant in my head and not getting out into the world. I have so many words that—forgive me—I’m not going to find it possible to “mind the metaphor,” as my friend used to caution.

I returned to work just under a year ago (anniversary date=02.01) and have yet to find my way back to my writing routine. But what a year this past year has been—exactly not the year for me to go silent. Heck, what a week it has been.

How many of us have been rendered almost speechless daily by the changes wrought on our nation? You’re just trying to do your part by performing the work you are paid to do and then you come home to discover yet another congressional action or executive order has happened—and you are stunned. Stunned that what it meant to be the United States of America can change so radically in such little time.

As I sat in church this morning, I listened to lessons from the lectionary (a three-year cycle of prescribed bible verses that many churches follow) that seemed hand-picked for just the times in which we are living. Coincidence? Not likely. Micah 6:8’s exhortation to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God” and Matthew’s beatitudes (the “blessed ares” that turn the power of this world on its head) as well as 1st Corinthians’ talk of the seeming “foolishness” of following Christ’s ways are words I needed to hear to remember that God is in charge—even if His not-so-subtle message is that we’re going to have to walk our walk for Him in the days and months ahead.

I have one writing prompt this week and it’s to write a prayer to pray at choir this coming Wednesday. What follows is my brainstorming for my assignment. I originally chose that date because Wednesday is almost Candlemas, which is celebrated on February 2. Traditionally in the church, February 2 is the day that commemorates the presentation of the infant Christ in the temple, as the date follows 40 days after His birth. Candlemas also was when families would bring in their candles to have them blessed for the year ahead. We here in America celebrate Groundhog Day on that day as we look for a furry critter to predict whether spring will arrive early or come as planned. From a strictly chronological viewpoint, February 2 is halfway through the winter—a time when we either start to wonder if spring will ever come or when the slightly longer days remind us that spring’s arrival is getting closer.

This year it seems we are stuck in the darkness of this particular winter of our discontent. We can hardly look ahead to spring. We are a nation in discord with members of our own families, with neighbors, and with other people of faith—as well as with our traditional enemies (both personal and national). Well, that groundhog has already seen the shadow—and it is the shadow that holds our prejudices and fears as well as our turning away from the pain and suffering of others.

But Candlemas is all about blessing the candles—which were the only source of light for homes in the days before other light sources were invented. Those simple sources of light were all people had to brighten the remainder of the year. In other words, the Presentation of the Lord is the ceremony that reminds us that He is the Light of the World. And that we who follow Him are called to be that light not just in our own homes, but also in our home that is this earth.

I don’t have a clue as to how we’re going to fix this mess our country is in, but I know God does. He knows how He’s going to mend the fractures amongst people who follow Him as well as with those who profess another faith and those who profess no faith. And I think it’s going to look an awful lot like people walking their faiths in order to bring about light.

In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “We loiter in winter while it is already spring.” No matter what the calendar says, we have all the light we need to fight this darkness and bring on a period of growth. I’ll just continue my quote-fest here by adding the motto of my alma mater (Wittenberg University): Having light we pass it on to others.

Having light (that means we already have it!), WE pass it on to others.

I can’t tell you why but during one of the darkest national times in my experience during one of the traditionally darkest months of the year, this typically stoic Lutheran kept wanting to throw her hand up in the air while singing about the beatitudes in the hymn “Blest Are They” (by David Haas and Michael Joncas). (Might it be God, perhaps?)

Providing blessings and bringing light into this current world is going to look a whole lot like walking—walking among those who are poor in spirit—for theirs is the kingdom of God.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

We loiter in winter while it is already spring.
Henry David Thoreau

There’s a whole new season out there—America’s sport opened yesterday with hearty shouts of “Play ball!”, the grass is way more than knee-high to the already jumping grasshoppers, Mr. and Mrs. Finch have built a nest under our patio roof, the dandelions are shining like the sun, and the most recent snow didn’t even stay on the ground a whole day—well, in most spaces.

Easter Sunday, after singing two church services (the finale of a song-filled Holy Week that began with a Saturday all day rehearsal, followed by Palm Sunday service, the two-hour Bach St. John Passion service, a Wednesday choir practice, plus Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services), I was ready for what seemed more like a long winter’s nap than spending time outside in the midst of earth’s rebirth. But with what turned out to be just a short spring fling with sleep, I was ready to experience the great outdoors I had been so missing with all that indoor singing.

My husband Sherman and our dogs Furgus and Sam were just as willing as I was to get back at moving under the big blue sky with which we were blessed on Easter.

Just a few minutes into our hiking climb up the Hogback, I realized how early in this season it still was. Yes, it was warm enough that I needed to keep an eye and ear for rattlesnake activity, but my breathing told me I hadn’t been climbing for several months. Apparently the large (to me) hills I run in my neighborhood as well as riding a chair lift up a mountain in order to ski down have not kept my lungs in anything like the hiking form I soon hope to regain. Another excuse to pause and admire the view stretching below, right? Worked for me and Sherman (though he already has been climbing on his mountain bike) even if the dogs would rather we pushed the limits from the start versus eased into the season.

By the time we descended to terra more firma, we sported evidence of both sun and dirt, morphing our winter skin into brand new shades. And speaking of brand new shades, the warmth of the new season seemed to have ushered in the return of the full moon, thanks to a cyclist-gone-commando who felt no need to hurry into his post-riding shorts. Yes, it is most certainly springtime next to the Rockies.

Transformations are happening in our home, too—though we prefer a more modest (and appropriate) approach style-wise. Our daughter is graduating from college next month. She and I are both looking for work—in many ways it seems as if finding that first post-college career job is a lot like finding one as a returning job seeker. The world wants to see both levels as stuck in the winter of our recent pasts and yet we are primed for the rapid greening that comes with spring.

Oh yes, the seasons are changing—outside and inside this house. Let us not loiter too long in winter when it is already spring—each step we take brings us closer to the growth and eventual fitness that comes with moving upward and outward into the world.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Of course last night was the first night of the post-time-change season, but is there anyone else out there who had trouble sleeping because the air felt too warm? Not really too warm, but too warm for winter blankets and winter pajamas? Be still my beating heart—oh, can spring be far away?

Even here in Colorado where this year’s winter has only given us extreme moments versus having been extreme all season, the hint of spring tantalizes the hopes of the heart. When did those bits of green start appearing in the lawn? And didn’t more rain than snow fall recently? And how many more types of birds are singing and flying around after months filled only with raucous murders of crows and honking gaggles of geese?

Tomorrow will likely bring a nasty mix of rain, snow, and wind, but it will be a springier mix, softened by warmer ground temperatures and longer hours of daylight. Not sure I’ll feel that way when I’m getting pelted with sleet, but with Wednesday’s sunshine, the springtime in my heart will be warming up once more.

Didn’t even know I was experiencing spring fever until I realized I was smiling just because of the change I felt in the breeze. Oh, I’ve got the fever . . . morning, night and in between!

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert Planted by Woman.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert
Planted by Woman.

Where has May gone? Well, I’ll tell you, I have spent much of May outside—it’s so good to be able to get out again, although I’m not that excited about weeding, pruning, and mowing. Thank goodness I can listen to books and music to get me through the less exciting stuff—yeah, I know, not very mindful, but I don’t think I’m quite ready to write “Zen and the Art of Lawn Work” as a follow-up to my “Zen and the Art of Snow Blowing” post.

My new neighbors have rarely seen me outside without headphones or ear buds—sheesh, am I becoming that remote person who disconnects from the world by using technology?

For the most part I’m just trying to con myself into doing what I consider boring work—hard to believe I come from long lines of farmers. I first started listening to books to get myself through organizing papers and doing my physical therapy exercise, so outside work is just one more place to use that tool. Since I spend most of my daytime hours alone, I have lots of time to think deep thoughts to myself anyway—a few hours listening to someone else’s thoughts doesn’t really inhibit my ability to formulate my own. I’ve never been a person who puts on music or the TV just to have background noise.

Our neighborhood can be pretty quiet on week day mornings and early afternoons, so it’s not as if I usually need to block out noise, unless someone’s using equipment my ears can’t stand, such as chainsaws, jackhammers, or leaf blowers. Still, I was really glad I was listening to a book without much outside sound interference when I realized I could still hear someone shouting—turns out some guy was just pontificating at great volume on his patio half a block away! Imagine if I hadn’t already been enjoying my book—planting my annuals would have been a lot less pleasant.

I really can plant annuals without needing to distract myself, but not so sure I would have weeded so thoroughly without a little help. This past weekend, I realized it would be folly to mow the grass before removing the weeds—no need to disburse any more weed seeds by mowing off the tops. By the time my story on the library’s Playaway system had ended, I was only about half done. As tempted as I was to run to the library for another book, I switched to the iPod instead to listen to some of my favorite “chore” tunes.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert Planted by Nature.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert
Planted by Nature.

Maybe I didn’t hear my son calling my name again and again. So what if he gave up, right? The dog and I were having a great time dancing to “Brick House” while pulling weeds. How did he know what song it was, you ask? Apparently, while he couldn’t hear the professional music, he could hear me singing along—really badly, no doubt. Guess I should be glad it wasn’t the new neighbors calling my name, right?

New plants are all planted, seeds are in the ground, perennials and self-seedings are waking up, and fewer weeds sprout in our green-for-now yard—the effects of the drought beat back for a few more weeks by a spring of moisture.

Now I can take my laptop outside to write—in silence. Or walk, run, or hike without any headphones. I may not always be mindful in whatever I do, but for the most part, I do have a mind full of my own words and songs. No, there are many outside activities I do that never require the distraction of someone else’s story or music. That’s just part of the real magic of May and the warmer months to come.

Starting to sound like a person who lives in the country—all I talk about is the weather. So what’s on our menu this week? Not snowy or rainy days—although afternoon thunderstorms are possible—but instead temperatures in the 80s. I am so confused by all this weather this month.

But, finally, I can bring home annuals! And I did—the first batch anyway.

As always, I started at the small, quiet nursery where I can look and think—without being run over every other minute. So the delivery truck was late and thus there were holes on the tables—that just helped me to think more creatively, right?

Every year I feel jealous of the woman who works there planting the containers—she gets to try out all sorts of different combinations in a variety of sizes. She doesn’t have to worry about whether or not she can afford the finished product because someone else can. I may only get to “play” with a few containers, but I would never give up the opportunity to paint my own summer dreams with the year’s pots and baskets.

I also have two built-in flagstone planters to fill in. Thanks to the imposing Colorado Blue Spruce and its shade out front, I’ve given up on experimentation with plants there. Impatiens, impatiens, and more impatiens are what work in that protected space. After painting our house bright colors, I felt a little stymied by palette options for the flowers. I’ve played it safe the last two years, but am mixing it up this year—won’t know how that works until the plants bloom into constant color.

Waiting for the rest of the story.

Waiting for the rest of the story.

The next question is: has the puppy/dog grown up enough to leave the back yard’s exposed bed alone? I’m tired of planting marigolds for their odor—I want choices! Think I’m going to risk it, but for that bed I’m going to have to venture out to the crazy, bustling large nursery where plants are tucked in every corner—and every corner might yield something I didn’t know I wanted.

After all, my “hanging” wall is one basket short of being empty. Who knows what colors might yet blaze against that white wall? Not me—yet.

Oh, it’s finally the season to dream again—and then to plunge my hands in the dirt and make those dreams come true.

(c) 2012 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2012 Christiana Lambert

And not very patiently either!

Tuesday morning, up before 5:00 a.m., I was putting on the ski pants I had washed to hide away because I was done with snow. Well, I was done with snow but Mother Nature wasn’t. So there I was out pushing a snow blower while snow continued to fall on my head, the recently cleared sidewalk, the streets, etc. Of course, with late April snow the stuff closest to the streets was pretty much as heavy as wet cement. Finally gave up and started pushing it aside with a shovel. But not only was it snowing, but was really cold for April—if the pavement hadn’t stayed warm, our work would have been a lot harder.

When it comes to snow blowing, once I’m awake and out there, I usually don’t mind spending time outside in the snow. It’s easy to fall into a peaceful rhythm—until spring arrives. Then I have to spend way too much time unclogging the machine—that’s when I know it’s time to move on to the next season.

Now it appears to be that season—even if the blossoms aren’t on schedule yet. No pink crabapple petals and very few forsythia blooms appear, but the grass is oh so green (and long—speaking of that next season!)
Finally, I can dream of planting. Even in normal years I don’t plant my annuals until after Mother’s Day—not sure but I may need to wait even a little longer this year. Still, instead of looking out my window and thinking about the shovel, I saw spring and thought about my trowel. And colors beyond green—purples, pinks, corals, yellows, reds. What joy will come in selecting this year’s hues and blooms? What to pick? What to pick?

Sitting here I can almost smell the earthy scents of my favorite nurseries, one quiet, calm, and small and the other bustling, large, and almost overwhelming in its choices. Oh, yes, what to pick?

The waiting is the hardest part, especially in years when Spring tarries in her dance with wintery blasts and falling snows. But when she bids the cold goodbye, oh my! Don’t want to wait . . . but guess I will, if only because I know that rushing into planting would only serve to break my heart.

Just as surely as April showers bring May flowers, so, too, does April snow. But April snows are especially good at reminding us to stop trying to hurry the calendar—and just wait. After all, Mother (Nature) knows best.

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Blogging AtoZ Challenge 2012

(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert