April heralds the season for yard work. It’s also the season for cleaning out the closets and repainting the scuffed walls, but as the sun was out, I was headed outdoors.
It was 3 pm on the first warm Sunday in many months. My body felt fresh with the promise of outdoor exertion. I selected the hip-hop playlist suggested to me on my streaming feed, and beats poured from my mini speaker. My mood instantly elevated, I stood surveying the backyard and wondered where to begin. In my hand was my favorite yard tool, the metal rake that Brent had pulled out for me from under a pile of warped and bleached cardboard boxes we intended to bring to the recycling center months ago.
Winter isn’t the season for dump runs, so we left the body-sized boxes to fall as they would around the sacks of mulch, the rakes and snow shovels, wedged between the recycling bin and the fence. Each week they took on new shapes and attitudes about their fate. I figured no one was coming through our rickety garden gate to mow our lawn for months, so I did what I normally have a hard time doing, I let it go. We’d have time to clear the yard out later.
Later was today. I began without a plan, raking as a reaction to the compulsion to find the dirt beneath the spikey layer of pine needles mixed with pinecones and shriveled logs of Clover’s poop. I set down the rake to grab scissors and a bowl for another task I saw needed doing. I bounced between tasks like a fly in a jar.
In a flush of appreciation, I was glad to have a small plot of land to manage, and not the 18 acres for sale with mountain views, a pool, and a waterfall into a pond that Brent has hearted on his Redfin profile. The same one he claimed was on the way home from Wyatt’s Saturday soccer game. We weren’t in the mood for a detour, but I honored his urge to share his vision for our future with such a concrete example available 10 minutes from home.
Sometimes the future vision shows up today to offer you something to hold on to for the future. This was that for Brent, and now he was offering it to me. I tried to imagine what living on 18 acres of grassland would be like. I pictured myself walking in laps around the perimeter of the property alone, with nowhere particular to be, reaching out to touch the foliage with my fingertips as I brushed by. I could imagine sitting on a blanket under a tree in a hidden nook with my journal and pen in hand. I shook off the daydream, not feeling ready for the quietude and isolation it promised. Although I could see it, I wondered if someday I could love it.
I stood holding a large enamel bowl filled with a mix of decomposing material, pausing to discern if my 11-year-old son, Wyatt’s squeals were of distress or delight as his older sister pushed him in the hammock that Brent just suspended from the trees. Poppy stood with her back to me and with two hands on the taut rope of the hammock, thrusting all her strength into sending her brother cocooned inside the belly of the polyester fabric into an upside-down looping rotation.
Squeals of delight, I decided.
I made a list in my head of what else needed doing—get the cushions out from storage, rake the side yard, sweep the deck and patio.
Two squirrels chattered at each other on a thick bough of the ponderosa 10 feet overhead as if suddenly renegotiating their plan to binge on birdseed from the feeders (their usual pastime). We were inconveniently (to them) staged just below two of their favorite gorging locations. The kids swinging in the hammock were like two sentinels patrolling the royal jewels, only in this case, the jewels would be birdseed, and the jewel thieves would be the mohawk-coiffured squirrels. I chuckled as I remembered Chip and Dale, although chipmunks, not squirrels. They were favorites from my Saturday mornings spent lazily as a child watching cartoons on the floor five feet from the television that filled the corner of our family room like a glacial erratic, boulder-sized in form and significance as a source of joy and entertainment in our lives as a family of three, just Mom, my brother, and me. It sat as if it had settled forever into the soft earth of our shag carpet. It was sitting propped against a floor cushion watching Looney Tunes and Chip and Dale that I felt perfectly poised to weather the highs and lows of my childhood.
“Kids, I have chores for you.” I put the bowl down and brought the rake over to the table. “You pick which you want. First come, first served.” I delegated the first two tasks, both kids hopping to help likely thinking they’d get it over with. “You can rake or you can prune. Your choice.”
“Rake!” Poppy moved toward the perimeter of the grass with rake in hand. Soon she was hovered behind the ponderosa, combing the shaggy hair of pine needles into a pompadour heap just below the towering tree.
Wyatt grabbed the green-handled shears and the bowl I was holding and set upon the pots to clip away at the root of the gray and brittle peppermint, thyme, and oregano. I pushed the broom around the furniture as Ms. Lauren Hill’s voice crackled through the portable speaker, transporting me to sophomore year at college when I listen to this album daily. I pulled out the chairs away from the table, reaching the oversized broom into the wedges of open space as I pictured myself standing in my bedroom sophomore year.
I was nineteen again, dancing with my roommates, sunlight streaming over my bed. We were rapping with Lauren, laughing, feeling alive, harmonizing with the world we created together. I pushed the chairs back under the table and stood resting on the broom handle with eyes closed, lingering on the memory. I was savoring it as I do the presence of a hummingbird appearing in my line of sight, hovering just long enough to awaken something in me before disappearing into the slipstream as quickly as she came. I opened my eyes and see the kids clipping and raking. No complaints. The mood felt light and bright like the blue sky emerging from the clouds.
I remembered what I love about the season of spring as I watch Wyatt rig a branch across the wine-barrel fish tank, transforming the winter sanctuary for the goldfish into a watering hole for newly arrived, thirsty robins. No matter how late in the season it is before it finally arrives, when the crisp days of winter transpose into the soft warmth of spring, it comes with the promise of possibility, a restart just when we need it most.
Although I loved the simplicity of winter after the New Year, the mornings and evenings curled up by the fire, hearty soups, and game nights at home, a part of me pined for the warmer, longer days of spring and summer. I filled my work days writing and coaching clients, taking walks in the snow with spiked shoes and a scarf wrapped around my face. On sunny days when the snow sparkled, I felt elated to live in altitude among the mountains I love. I pivoted to sports I could play indoors like pickleball when I wasn’t snowboarding or skiing. I went out to eat less often, choosing my sweats and dogs over boots and hard pants. I was content in the season I was in. But with spring emerging with new growth through the dirt, I felt my energy begin to bubble for what I was ready to bring forward—new ideas, fresh perspectives, and new adventures.
This season of new life inspires us to look beyond the familiar. To get outside our comfort zone. To get our hands dirty. To dare to be hurled from the hammock for the sake of a belly-aching good time. Rather than launch ourselves into it without much consideration, a new season marks a natural transition point, a space to pause and reflect on where you have been, where you are now, and where you are going.
Take this opportunity to write out your answers to these questions, and the prompts that follow, as a seasonal grounding ritual. Here we are talking about spring, but you can substitute in any season you are entering to deepen your connection and intentionality to the season.
Questions for Reflection
Reflect on where you’re coming from and what you are ready to create this spring:
What positive memories from your childhood do you associate with spring?
What are you looking forward to this season?
What are you not looking forward to this season? What about it makes it feel hard?
Which intentions or goals that you set for yourself in the New Year do you feel connected to as you enter this new season?
What specific activities do you have on your wish list to do this season? What makes doing these things important to you?
Sentence Starters Writing Prompts
This is the season for me to trust myself to _________________________.
If I listened to my intuition I would know that _____________________________.
If I knew I couldn’t fail this season, I would like to try ___________________________.
Already I have been reminded this season by making some bold choices of my own that just leaping into action is the fastest way to burn off the fear and anxiety that slows us down, trying to hold us back and keep us safe (and stuck) in the nest.
Resist that urge to play it safe this season. Jump in and get your hands dirty!
Remember what makes you so powerful and dynamic.
You are irrepressible. This is your season to own it and test it.
Now go make a splash, boo.
Download the prompts from this blog here:
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