I thought it was spring. After spending sixteen years in Minnesota where spring plays peekaboo until June when it launches right into summer, I was wary. But it seemed like spring. The water in the chicken coop finally thawed. I was finally able to dump out the frozen chunk of ice from the kiddie pool, otherwise know as the duck pond, and fill it was fresh water. The ducks thought it was spring too! The ducks, chickens and cats enjoyed a few days of free ranging in the backyard. Even the possum decided it was spring and came out for a visit. There’s something I wish would hide back wherever he came from. I’m really trying to embrace nature, but honestly that thing creeps me out! It’s huge and apparently doesn’t know it’s supposed to play dead when frightened or just isn’t frightened of me because it just stares at me and goes about his business.
Then all of a sudden it wasn’t spring anymore. The water froze. The driveway was covered in snow again and it was cold. I guess I fared better than my Minnesota friends because they haven’t had a taste of spring yet and old man winter just keeps knocking on their door. My inch of snow was nothing compared to their second snow day this year. I lived there for sixteen years and braved through every snow storm and not once did my district close for a snow day. No fair.
Anyway, this changing of the seasons has got me thinking. Today marks what was my last day at Spring Lake Park, my school district in Minnesota. Today was the day I said goodbye to winter and embraced spring in my new home. I’ve watched my house move through every season. Spring was wet and cold and then lovely. The blossoming trees in my front yard were a spectacle of white and pink flowers. Then summer came with its green grass, day lilies, gardens and horseback rides through the trails. Fall dumped on us more leaves than I have ever seen in my whole life, but rather than getting to watch my beloved Pepper run through them, tears fell like the leaves as we said goodbye. My heart froze just as winter knocked on our door. Winter is its own beautiful season though. If I can thank Minnesota for anything it’s for teaching me there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. As my new friends bemoaned the cold, I enjoyed the snow and the clean white blanket it laid over my home and my heart. I even enjoyed the cold mornings mucking out horse stalls and trying to get the eggs before they froze. I hunkered down and embraced my new venture into writing. And now it’s spring again….almost.
My house isn’t the only thing moving through seasons. I’m moving, although I’m not exactly sure of the season. In many ways it’s been spring, winter and fall all wrapped up in one. Spring has brought me new friends and animals and responsibilities, but the fall has forced me to say goodbye to some old friends, a beloved companion and a career and direction I loved. Mostly, I think I’ve been stuck in winter hibernating. I used to think hibernations was just animals’ way of hiding out or sleeping through a difficult season. While that’s part of it, it’s also nature’s way of preserving energy, not to escape, but to be ready for what’s next. Sometimes it’s ok to slow down and be still, to forge less and expend less energy. I’ve hibernated this winter, but I’m not sleeping or hiding. I’m taking this season in stride, restoring myself and getting ready for whatever comes next. I’ve been living off of books and ideas and thoughts like a squirrel working its way through its store of nuts. Some seasons are like this. They are cold and hard but not without some beauty and rewards. You just have to look a little harder. All seasons are not easy, some seasons in life you just have to grin and bear.
I know a few people in my life who are in some pretty cold seasons of their own and maybe you are too. Some days it seems as if everything is frozen solid and there is no hope for spring. That’s the thing about seasons though. Even though they might not come as soon as we had hoped or as long as we might like, they always come. One thing is for sure, and this is one thing Minnesota has taught me well, the season will always change. There was a saying in Minnesota, “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” Apparently, this saying is common in a lot of other places too. But I think it’s pretty sound advice for getting through the seasons of life. How many good things in your life have lasted forever? How many bad things in your life have lasted forever? Exactly. Life changes continuously and no matter what we happen to be up against at this very moment, as my mom says, “this too shall pass.”
Spring is in the air even if it’s not all the way here. For teachers, this comes with mixed blessings. Spring marks the testing season, the am I being asked back next year season, the yearly shuffle of jobs and ideas for the next year, and no more winter coats and boots or indoor recess, at least until spring makes it too wet. It is the time when we begin to see all our fall and winter work bloom or realize we have a little more thawing to do to make sure our students are ready. And, just like the birds and animals get a little more active and antsy, so do our students. So, teachers you have a choice this spring. It can be a tumultuous time of rain and harsh winds or it can be a glorious time of blooming and new growth. It is all in how your approach it and how you change your habits.
Different seasons call for different habits. As the seasons have changed around my home I’ve had to learn new ways of caring for the animals and tending the yard. Water once ran from a hose, but now needs to be carried in buckets and heated. Ground once solid and hard is now wet and mush. Similarly, in my changing seasons of life I’ve had to learn new ways to share my talents and develop new skills. Where I once had a clear job description and solid ground, I now find myself in muddy waters of learning to write and blog. Changing seasons can be hard. Many people are in hard seasons. My father in-law who was once healthy and active is learning to take things slowly and build up his strength as his heart heals. My aunt and uncle who decided to downsize are giving up things and routines they have had for years. What season are you in right now? What does the transition to the next season mean for you? What habits will you need to adjust in the new season? What habits will help your students transition?
Embrace spring. Spring is a season of new life and opportunity. Spring is your chance to plant habits that will grow. Be awesome and watch something blossom.