Stories Of The South: The Rite Of Spring
Whether it means cleaning house or getting outdoors, spring marks a time for change.
Every weekend morning my husband and I walk the ½-mile drive that leads from our front door to a crooked country road. Living on 300 acres, we enjoy all seasons, but a palpable shift in mood takes place in the spring. It is the season of grandest change.
An allée of trees – poplar, dogwood, buckeye, oak (to name a few) – creates a tunnel of green as the leaves bud out. Fragrant wisteria winds through this tunnel, coloring the ground with spent petals. Hundreds of daffodils line the wooded area, and tiny periwinkle butterflies flutter in clusters along the way.
On this springtime amble, I think of my mother, who celebrated the season by undertaking a rash of chores that kept her inside for days. For her, this time of year sparked a need for cleansing.
Not an outdoors person, my mother greeted the turning season with runner gloves and a dustpan. She enjoyed a spotless house and worked tirelessly to keep it so. She began by throwing out winter clutter and giving away unworn clothes and useless knickknacks.
Along with sweater and coats, she put away winter linens. The arrival of warmer weather also meant taking down heavy drapes and washing the sheers. She flipped the mattresses and in many years even changed the fabric on the dining room chairs.
I think of all this as I walk through the mottled light and detour up the ridge to hunt for the first trilliums. I spy one, and as I stoop to examine the rich red-brown wildflower, I wonder, “Why didn’t I ever follow her lead?”
Up to this point, modern conveniences, a demanding work schedule, an overbooked life, and a relaxed attitude toward housework deterred me from practicing my mother’s springtime ritual. Mulling it over I conclude that, ironically, our goals were similar.
Of a different generation, my mother celebrated this time of year by finding order and rebirth in our home. I, instead, look for that new life in nature. I find comfort in smelling the wisteria, picking a fistful of daffodils, and watching the woods come to life after the barren days of winter.
As my husband and I stroll back toward our home, I think of my mother and how she would have spent this March morning scurrying about his house, preparing it for spring. As we leave the trees, I study our house and feel a growing need to ready if for a new season.