A couple weeks ago, a few days before Mother Nature dropped a load of wet, heavy snow on the Finger Lakes, the weather was warm enough for me to go outside and take a look at my garden. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve experienced indescribable joy in the spring upon seeing the first buds appear on trees, and little green shoots poking up through the cold earth. I guess to me, these are important reminders of the continuity of life, of perseverance during the dreary winter months, and of the simple beauty unfolding before our very eyes, if we’re paying attention. So, as I checked a new garden bed that I’d created last summer, I was very excited to see the first evidence of daffodils and hyacinths, pushing their way toward the sunshine.
Shortly after, the storm came, burying the buds under a foot of snow. Haven’t seen the buds since, but I know they’re under there, doing what they do—somehow surviving the icy conditions, and preparing to delight us in a few weeks.
Yesterday I was walking home on South Main from my office. I gazed at Seneca Lake to the east, snuggled underneath its blanket of grey skies, and kept on the lookout for sightings of tulips and other spring bulbs, making their way through patches of snow. And then, about half a block away, I noticed a woman coming toward me. Something about her caught my attention.
When we got within speaking range of one another, she gave me a big smile, and stopped and said, “You really think spring’s under all this snow?”
“Well, I sure think so,” I answered. “The little buds here and there suggest that flowers will soon be upon us. They’re a sign of hope.”
She paused for a moment, looking off toward the lake. “This season is kind of mixed for me. My mom passed away on the first day of spring, eight years back. I can’t help but think of her, this time of year.”
“I lost my mom during the spring, too. Last year, in fact,” I replied, “At the time, I also was very aware that she passed during this season of growth and new life.”
We were both silent for a moment.
“It’s a mixed season for me, too. I guess it always will be, for both you and me.”
The woman smiled again. “Yes, it’s good to remember our moms.”
I smiled, too.
“Have a nice day,” she called, as she resumed her walk.
This exchange could have happened anywhere—two strangers sharing their experiences of profound grief and loss, of the hope and beauty that springtime brings, both mourning and celebrating those whom we have loved so deeply. But I love the fact that it happened on the streets of Geneva, New York. I love the idea that she may someday read this and be comforted in her loss, and be affirmed in her mixed emotions toward spring.