Spring forward with hope

What was this emotion I was feeling? The pink cherry blossoms dotted the sidewalk. I replaced my rain jacket with my down parka as the unseasonably cold wind struck my core. I wouldn’t feel rays of sunshine on this stroll; raindrops left tracks on my glasses upon my return. And yet, I felt so much hope.

First I paid a silent visit to the Oregon Maritime Museum, Steamer Portland. It is impossible for me to visit this Portland Waterfront without taking a few minutes to remember. The spirit of Dad, my memories of him, made me smile. Tears fill my eyes. (But of all boats, Dad most loved steamboats.) I gaze down toward the brilliance of the rows of flowering cherry trees.

Was it the families with children chasing whispering pink blossoms? The older couple holding hands on a bench, gazing at the river through blossoms of pink? The soon-to-be college graduates posing for photos with mortar boards in hand? The woman walking a vest-clad and leashed cat, offering a treat after it sat on command? The cyclists and joggers passing by? Yes, but more than that. It was the feeling of being part of a larger whole: community members rejoicing in the beauty of flowering cherry trees and the birth of spring along a waterfront that feels home to us, after years of isolation for some.

Yet. One man slept on the ground partially wrapped in a blanket, cell phone at his feet. My next morning reading of the Oregonian alerted me that three people died by drug overdose the same day I walked hopefully along the waterfront. I couldn’t help but wonder if the man who died near Naito Parkway was the man I hesitated near but passed by. Thinking then I should leave money under his phone but deciding to walk on instead. Yet. I saw abandoned tents near the Steel Bridge and wondered: where are the occupants now? Stuck in a dysfunctional system hoping for better or already moved on to another spot believing no good alternatives exist? Torn in this mix of hope for everyone to be safe and warm as I too identify my privilege to walk and enjoy the beauty of flowering cherry trees. Privilege to buy an overpriced latte without wondering if I could afford it and be able to schedule my own time for this interlude during a work day.

Yet, I do feel hopeful and joyous. March is completed: a month that will forever signal to me the birth of both parents and death of my mom. Daffodils burst with life. Cherry blossoms filter through the fingers of small children and float above a river as it heads to the Pacific. Abundant signs of spring we Oregonians recognize, even as the threat of snow lingers: cherry and plum blossoms, crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips. The Willamette and Tualatin Rivers burst with spring rain and early snow melt. Trillium begin to pop out onto forest floors.

IN THE WILLAMETTE Valley, our native trillium awakens us to spring. Trillium ovatum—otherwise known as wake-robin—
springs forth even earlier than normal this year of 2016. We hope it’s an anomaly, not a sign of things to come, even though we suspect differently as our summers continue to grow warmer and longer. Trillium can vary from white to purple, but always have the trademark collar of whorled leaves above a bare stem boasting a single flower with three petals, distinguishing it from any other. This flower spreads by rhizomes and if not disturbed can form large colonies, carpeting the woodland floor. Legend reminds us that picking parts of a trillium can harm the plant, as it stores much of its food in its leaves. Those special flowers we observe each spring can take up to seven years to
grow on a new rhizome.

My Music Man Chapter 3: Baseball

I hold my new grandchild and am immersed in the joy of this new spirit. Helpless on his own. Loved already by many. Smiling at the simple gift of touch, milk, life.

I have been told I am an optimist. Unrealistic on more than one occasion. My brain and heart struggle in these moments of contradiction, sadness, grief, loss, cruelty. Beauty, community, opportunity. And yet, I choose hope. Again and again.

Welcome spring.

3 thoughts on “Spring forward with hope

  1. Dede, as I read your most thoughtful words, I was walking with you.. I was smelling the air, feeling the chill, admiring the Cherry Blossoms… feeling your despair and feeling your loss. Love and respect, kc

    Liked by 1 person

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