Sarah Jane Weill
I’m in a house that doesn’t have a mailbox. Our closest neighbors are maple trees. For the first time ever, we tapped three of them in March and boiled their sap into syrup.
The walls around me are becoming strange. This house has always been a home, but now it’s a fortress. It enforces the distance between me and the suffering I read about daily. I try to mourn along with the rest of the world. I tell myself I’m doing my part by hiding. I spend too many hours looking out the window.
I’m getting sucked into the wildness.
Every day, the world teaches me something new about change. It’s a process most apparent in its details: the lengthening of daylight, the thawing of a frozen puddle. It’s not straightforward, following a calendar or expectations or our desires. The beauty of change is in its nonlinearity.
March, April, and May are months of transition, none bound to a single season. Most days here, snow falls in the morning and melts by dinnertime. When my window view isn’t a magic scene of white or green, it’s dark and brown. The world all mud and mush.
I used to want winter or spring. Ice or bloom. I couldn’t see the wonder in the in-between.
Pale moss texturing a tree. A dead birch in the woods. Bare branches slicing the sky. The fleeting burn of sunsets. Backlit clouds gliding overhead. The sudden appearance of buds then leaves. Wildflowers. All these small beauties prove that the wonder isn’t hard to find.
This wonder exists, too, in the bodies of the creatures that fly and scurry and roam around me. Blue jays, robins, chipmunks, moles, bears, hawks, foxes, woodpeckers, snakes, bumblebees. The mundane strands of all our lives are intertwining. As my family and I sit inside typing, blue jays gather in a tree, twittering. As we set aside work on a Friday evening to cook together, two bears stroll up our driveway. As I write this now, bumblebees tend to purple flowers.
Not every day is harmonious. In their quest for friendship, my two poodles (accidentally) kill Marty the mole. We can’t find a shoebox to give him a proper burial.
All of this varied life is teaching me to appreciate the in-between. To let my mind and my body settle while change directs the world around me. To not be frustrated when that same change diverges again and again: ice spreading instead of azaleas blooming. These aren’t easy lessons to learn.
It’s important not to mythologize nature. Not to read the grandiose in the ordinary.
That ordinary is what I admire. The details that remind me that the earth is solid but never still. The stray bits of beauty that aren’t designed for me.
These last few months, all of this wildness has helped me find calm and hope and inspiration. I’m grateful to be able to sit outside now, breathing in air that smells like campfire smoke and pollen.
Spring, it seems, is arriving.