“Call her green and the winters cannot fade her”
Like most yards this time of year mine is an ugly brown mess of leaves, bare branches and wailing grass. The yard is an extension of the fixer-upper we bought a year ago this April. It’s a patched up plot of grass showing the work we’ve attempted to make this space ours, something that works for our family. That has meant ripping out hundreds of daylilies to make room for grass, to give the peach tree room to breathe and hopefully flourish this next season. There’s a rhododendron that’s taking over the upper corner, an elder tree that needs pruning, and some ivy that needs reigning in. Add to that the cement mixers and dump trucks and diggers that have all made their way out here, unearthed by the melted snow, it’s just a brown mess where I hope for a haven. Each time I open the back door to follow the toddling baby and rain-boot clad boy, I’m expecting a breath of fresh air, moments to put aside the worry that breeds in the unfinished house projects, my husband’s stresses at work, my own failings as a young mom. Yet each time I’m out here, I’m making a mental to-do list for this space too: dig out the old lawn decorations, clean out the shed, plant more of this here, weed more of that there. Will the daylilies come back and choke out whatever’s been planted? Will the roses grow this year? Will we be able to harvest the peaches? The worry is palpable here too.
Last weekend squeezed by with only a nice Sunday dinner to show for itself, and we are feeling the length of these days already. My husband is swamped at his job which means longer hours and Saturday work days. I feel overwhelmed by the weight of household matters and two small kids. The boys feel cooped up and tired. Our days have been busy and it’s hard to say why. I was debating what to do with our time when my toddler put on his rain boots and opened the backdoor. Dreading the inevitable backyard routine of fishing dirt and rocks from the baby’s mouth, asking my son to dig dirt from this spot instead of where the roses are trying to grow, I dragged my feet following them. What dangerous object will they dig up this time? Then there they were: loads of tiny crocus flowers all around the yard, small, purple parties popping up from the dead grass. Their bright colors are a stark contrast to this March landscape and my mood, celebrating what’s to come.
I’m late to the Joni Mitchell love, but I listened to one song of hers on repeat while I walked through the last weeks of my first pregnancy. Telling the story of a young, single mother who chooses adoption for her daughter, “Little Green” is sad and sweet, poetic and full of longing – the perfect recipe for tears for a heavy and expectant mother. Mitchell masterfully reminds us that joy and worry, celebration and sadness, beauty and mess can coexist giving birth to something new altogether. The tiny flower is a small hope for today. Even if the blooms of today are mostly crushed by the time we go inside, trampled by little feet and picked by little hands, I’m able to close the back door knowing that there’s always hope for today and tomorrow. Like Joni Mitchell sings in “Little Green,” in the midst of the mess that can feel crushing at times, “there’ll be crocuses to bring to school tomorrow.”
This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in this series “Make A Mess”.