An old Taj Mahal song goes, "Remember the feeling as a child, when you woke up and morning smiled?" I've always loved the song for that line, because I do remember feeling that way as a little girl—running to the window first thing in the morning and looking out, happy that it would be a good day just because the sky was blue.
Mornings still smile fairly often, but I find that attitude and choice matter more these days than accidents of weather. Not that blue skies hurt. No, indeed. The weather has been glorious lately, and morning, afternoon, and evening have been smiling their little hearts out. When spring arrives in that spectacular way I always dig out my recording of Ella Fitzgerald singing "Blue Skies"—her incredible joy just goes with the joy of springtime. Once she's done with the "business" of the first run-through and lets the words fall away, that song is one pure ray of shining light—a toast to life and its extravagant plenty.
|Tulipa praestans, mid-March|
I remember being stunned once by a critic of Fitzgerald's work; he said her singing lacked passion, because she avoided "deeper," more painful song subjects. I couldn't believe it. Since when is joy not a passion? How can you listen to Fitzgerald and not be swept away with her in the thrill of mastery, of mind and voice and breath working to their utmost, the relish of give-and-take and getting lost in the flow of music, the exuberance of a perfect moment and the knowledge that you helped to create it, the equally awesome knowledge that you did not create it alone, the sheer gusto for that glorious groundswell of life, of NOW— Good heavens. Since when is that not passion?
|'He Shi Ko' perennial bunching onion (Allium fistulosum)|
I was thinking about that while wandering around the garden a couple of weeks ago. Now, on the last day of March, joy and exuberance can be had for a song, with the muscari and tulips and scilla splashing color into all the corners of the garden, and the biggest sand cherry exploding into blossom while troupes of ipheion dance at its feet. The cherry's fragrance fills the air, and the bees fly giddily from one of its thousands of flowers to the next. Oh, yes. It's hard not to find joy outside right now.
A couple of weeks ago, though, none of that energy had come out into the open yet.
|Western sand cherry (Prunus besseyi), two weeks ago|
It was still building in hidden places, a groundswell of growth happening behind closed doors. But even then, when the world was still mostly a brown, dull place, the sheer diversity of Life could astonish: the power of it, the extravagant, over-the-top, vibrant super-abundance of it. What amazing variety is to be found as growth begins—the eggs of the sand cherry buds sitting in their cups; the new spring onion leaves contorting to break free of their protective sheaths; the nesting, armored scales of Carolina jessamine, gradually releasing the flower within; the eyes of the angelita daisies peeping through fringed lashes.
|Angelita daisy (Tetraneuris/Hymenoxys acaulis)|
The day when that groundswell of energy spills out into action, taking you with it—if you let it. The day when a moment of wonder grabs you and dances you around—if you consent. The day when you open your eyes to the extravagant plenty on your doorstep and smile back at the morning.
|Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)|
The day when you walk outside, lift your hands like a glass to the clear blue sky, and let mind and body shout, "L'chaim!"