Winter in Michigan seems to never end. Days are short and cloudy. It’s cold and the wind blows. Spring isn’t really unrevokably completely here until late May. Before then winter might reach out with a frost and kill the tender young plants of spring.
Winter can be fierce and doesn’t give way easily. Spring in Michigan creeps in. It sneaks in. Slowly. Stealthily until it has enough presence to banish winter. And if I look carefully, I can see the very first incursions of spring.
The winter equinox was a good 8 weeks ago. The days begin to get longer but initially by tiny one and two minute increments. It takes a long time before the cumulative effect of those minutes is noticeable. It takes time for the daylight to gain momentum and push back the darkness of winter. But finally it’s light before 8 am. Finally the darkness is held back past 5 pm. Spring is coming.
This week I have heard, just twice, birds sing. Birds don’t sing in the winter. Birds around the feeder will chirp, brief and business like, at each other as they fly in and out for food. But this week two birds sang. Their bird thoughts looking past survival and turning to finding mates and building nests. Spring is coming.
One day, in a few weeks, the wind will change. The wind will not be harsh, the cold bite of winter will be gone. The wind will have a softness and a warmth as it blows over the snow.
One day, in a few more weeks, there will be buds on the trees. Then one amazing day there will be tiny green leaves. In the morning buds and by afternoon- leaves. The annual miracle of spring.
Winter doesn’t give up without a fight. If I get carried away and rush into spring by planting petunias and geraniums too soon, winter may creep back one night with a killing frost. But eventually winter ebbs away and the even the most delicate plants are safe.
Winter doesn’t give up easily, but spring always comes. Always. Spring comes slowly and it is easy to miss the early signs. But missing them does not mean the signs do not happen. Spring comes whether we notice or not. Always, reliably. But slowly and quietly before it can with exuberant bird song and brilliant flowers proclaim its arrival.
Deep in every winter I remember spring comes, always.