By Jim CHASE
Even being the cold weather, dark clouds, rainstorm addict that I am, I admit to having a special appreciation for this time of year. Spring, especially after a winter that brought such impressive rains to the Southland, often takes my breath away, quite literally. Of course, I’m partially referring to the curtain of yellow-green pollen that blows across our driveway (especially if we’ve just washed a car) from the highly productive pine trees in our neighbor’s yard and engages my life-long battle with asthma like a cheap cigar in a claustrophobic elevator.
However, this time of year I also regularly catch myself holding my breath while watching one of many small springtime miracles unfold before my eyes in honor of the new season.
For example, we have two sycamore trees – a towering, older one in our front yard and a smaller, younger one in back of our house. Not two weeks ago, I looked at the bare branches and thought to myself that it wouldn’t be long until the trees would be covered in green, leafy foliage that would provide cooling shade to our house and yards.
Sure enough, both of these sycamores are now dotted with green measles of small leafy shoots emerging from all across their gray bark skin. The new leaves are growing so fast, I swear sometimes if I stare long enough at the same branch, I can see the leaves grow as I watch. It’s amazing to behold.
A few years ago, about this same time of year and while looking out our living room window, we noticed a couple of small birds (maybe sparrows, or finches?) that were flying from the bare branches of the older sycamore in our front yard to the eaves along the front of our house. They had pine needles, twigs and other organic debris in their mouths and were obviously trying to find a place to build a nest – flying back and forth along the eaves without much success.
The next thing I knew, our middle son (being an exceptionally resourceful craftsman) disappeared into our garage. When he reappeared a short while later, he carried with him a small wooden shelf that he proceeded to attach with brass brackets high up in the eaves above our front porch – creating a simple, safe perch for the little birds to build their nest and keep away from neighborhood cats, raccoons, and other predators. Soon after our son climbed down off the ladder and come back into the house, the birds flew directly to his newly installed avian apartment to begin setting up housekeeping.
Every Spring now, as our trees burst forth with new life, we watch the building of yet a new nest – and eventually – witness a mother bird protecting her tiny eggs while the father bird flies back and forth providing bits of food and – from his nearby perch on the sycamore – protection for his family. Like I said, it takes my breath away.
Then again, this sort of internal, deeply imbedded programming so readily found throughout all of creation is – to me at least – just another reminder that we do not inhabit a world of randomness and chaos. Rather, we live in a created place of beauty and purpose.
Whether it’s the beautiful flower that pushes up through the last snow of winter, or the sudden explosion of bugs just in time to feed all of those new upturned baby bird mouths in nests all across the land – every once in a while, it registers somewhere inside this thick head of mine, that this season of growth and renewal and of life itself is no accident.
No matter how the harsh realities of everyday life may darken my optimism, no matter what injustice, pain and suffering may yet exist throughout a fallen world, Spring – more specifically, Easter – reminds me to believe in a bigger, better, grander plan. And I do. I’ll see you ‘round town.
Jim Chase is a lifelong CV resident and freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.