A fresh start

Story by Jill McSheehy

Shafts of light peek through the bedroom curtains. I awake to silence — no hum of the heater or purr of the air conditioner. Grabbing a coffee, I step out the door onto my patio. My ears tickle to the sound of birdsongs, and my eyes rest on the birdhouse in my line of sight. I watch for the mama as she makes repeat trips to gather food for her babies. 

In my periphery, bright shades of green edge out the brown carpet I’ve bemoaned for months. The slippery grass sparkles in the early morning light. Orange calendula flowers catch my eye. They had opened with the sunrise as if whispering, “good morning.” A few steps away from the calendula, my favorite herbs beckon me to enjoy a quick sniff. Yet a sniff is never enough. I snap off a sprig of peppermint and rub it between my fingers. My eyelids lower and I breathe deeply, taking it all in. 

Finally, spring has arrived. 

For months I wished winter would hurry up and exit. Relentless cold, clouds, and rain brought a cloudiness to my soul I fought to shake. The flu visited our household and disrupted our “normal” for a week. Spring could not get here fast enough. 

Yet, at this moment as I breathe in the sweet scent of peppermint, I recognize this: spring would not feel as sweet without winter. 

Green wouldn’t pop if I hadn’t stared at brown for months.

Birdsongs wouldn’t insist on a second listen if I hadn’t known silence.

The smell of fresh herbs wouldn’t entice me to take a few extra steps if I hadn’t spent months using dried herbs in their stead.

(And seasonal allergies wouldn’t seem so manageable had I not endured cold and flu season.)

I breathe a sigh of thanks, not just for spring, but for the winter that heightens the enjoyment of this season.

I glance back at the birdhouse in my garden, looking for mama again. Then my eyes settle to my favorite place — my vegetable garden. This will be my eighth season growing my own fruit, vegetables, and herbs. Even though I’m gardening in the same plot of land, it all feels new again. 

Just like spring. 

No matter how many gardening seasons are behind me, I always find myself trying something new. Last year I planted apple trees, a fig tree, and elderberry bushes, and I dabbled in the latest vegetable craze — cucamelons. This year I am adding peach trees and cranberry bushes, and I’m growing a common but new-to-me vegetable, eggplant. Will every new endeavor I attempt work out? Probably not. But I have to try. If I hadn’t planted blueberry bushes in my first season, I wouldn’t harvest bushels season after season. You just never know which experiments will fail and which will succeed, but the fun is in the trying. 

And spring — more than any other season — reminds us to try new things. 

What can you try for the first time this year? 

April is a great time to start a garden for the first time. Can’t commit to a full garden? Anyone can grow a few pots of vegetables. Try growing your favorite herb. Plant a new tree or bush. Buy that flower you’ve been eyeing. Make a regular Saturday hobby out of visiting a local Farmer’s Market.

One of these mornings, walk outside at daybreak. Close your eyes and listen. Feel the air against your skin. Take a moment and drink in nature and all its gifts of the season. Reflect on what this new beginning offers you. And then commit to trying something new this year. Embrace the season of new beginnings.