It’s been a cold winter and cool spring here on southern Vancouver Island, with more snow than we’re used to. Right now our upper elevation snowpack is at 72% of normal, which isn’t bad but still holds the risk of another dry summer, depending what our spring/summer temperature and precipitation is like.
Not that long ago I stood in the backyard on a dark winter evening in half a metre of snow, my winter boots inundated as more flakes fell. The world was muted and silent under its wintry cloak, the only sound the occasional gunshot of a tree branch failing under the heavy weight of snow. I could have stood there forever, drinking in the quiet of a perfect evening.
Fast forward a month to yesterday evening. The backyard was brighter (thanks to daylight savings time) and filled with the sounds of frogs croaking, creaking, and glurging their spring symphony. Despite the fact that the marsh is still partially frozen, these brave souls have decided it’s time to ring in spring. I even had to rescue a small frog from its spot near the back door, as the dogs were far too interested in it.
Spring has also brought the morning Canada geese, shouting in the marsh about who gets the open water and who is relegated to the icy, slushy parts. They debate this with their equally loud duck counterparts, and it’s always a toss up as to who wins. Robins are hopping all over the yard, grabbing grubs that survived the cold winter, while red-winged blackbirds squeeze out their trilling song.
Last week I was at Butchart Gardens, and the cold spring has hit them hard as well. There are huge expanses of exposed soil as there just aren’t the number and extent of spring bulbs coming up. I noticed that the staff were digging in pots of bulbs that had likely been forced in a greenhouse to make up for the lack of flowers. As I wandered around the garden, relatively quiet for this time of year, the flowers I did see stood out because of their rarity.
In case you couldn’t tell, I’m making an effort to really see spring this year. I recently read a blog post by Lee Skallerup Bissett, in which she talks about how much of spring she missed seeing last year due to depression, and how she’s making up for it this year.
You’ll recall my post from January, in which I mentioned I hadn’t been feeling that great. Things haven’t improved much since then. I go through the motions, but the spark of life eludes me. Thanks to Lee’s post, I’m trying to generate my own spark by focusing on the changing tidings of spring. For example, my primulas are trying to bloom (though they’d do much better if the dogs didn’t insist on running over them), and my rhubarb is starting to put out a scarlet nub of a spring shoot.
Though I had hoped that this mood phase would pass, it appears to have settled in for the long run, like an unwelcome houseguest. It doesn’t help that my doctor has suggested that this may be the best I can hope for. He said I can have a decent life if I just accept that I can’t live like everyone else and make the most out of what I have. But as Esmé Weijun Wang wrote last spring:
As someone who used to define herself vis-à-vis her work ethic, to become unable to act upon that work ethic is nearly intolerable.
It’s been almost five years now that I’ve been on medical leave. Three years since I got my current diagnosis. You’d think I’d have figured out how to live with it by now. But I suppose if you take out the months of trying different medications to see what might work, I’ve only had a bit of control over this illness since last year. As Susan Olding writes:
Chronic conditions are not so much something we “have” as something we “are.” Or something we become.
With this latest phase, it seems my illness has finally overtaken me and become who I am, a reality I must accept.
In the meantime, I’ll make the most of spring – thanks to Lee Skallerup. I’ll try to focus on the writing projects I’m working on. I’ll look forward to the transition into summer and the gardening season. And hope that the longer days and sunshine will help me be more accepting of my reality.