A Different Kind of Spring

“The year your mother passed,” Dad begins.

I don’t like that word, “passed”. When he uses it, the implication is that her death was a natural thing instead of a sudden and traumatic accident that jarred everything about how our family was living. Now we have that reality in a different form, the physical environment around us. Time doesn’t agree with weather. Degrees don’t listen to dates. Instead of an unnatural death, we speak of an unnatural spring.

He continues, “We were in the field already.”

His short statement conjures sensations of dust prickled on sun kissed skin and squinting eyes. Out of time, not yet, but in time, not really. It’s April without showers. It snows, not the big, wet joke flakes sodden in the earth. Wishing to be the scratch of dirt, the flakes are the crisp, tight we belong here, February kind. So, we wait on seeds who would never shed their coats in the cold ground. I choose my winter jacket too and brace for more wind.

“It’s not right. I guess we’ll never have a traditional spring again,” Dad finishes.

I wish I was finished instead of at the beginning of another walk. My hood down. My shoulders curled over when it should be my back in the garden rows. The only digging is my dog’s burrowing into mouse holes. Dried grass sweeps behind his churning back and forth. I worry about families, but I see no seeds cast out just born. He pauses. Still I’m stuck on mothers losing babies, on mothers unable to protect babies. Is this worse than unborn? He cycles the air from within the opening through his nostrils. He reads his progress and allows his body to collapse. Progress is what brought us here. Wind all around us and yet we have no wind.

“Should be a real spring day. Winds from the southwest.” Those are more than one man’s echoes. More than one farmer’s memories. “Look what Mother Earth does to her own.”

And our own? It’s hard not to consider 'what if' we’d had a different kind of spring thirty years ago. Would I wish climate change rushed forward. Environmental degradation for my own benefit. After all, I had practiced this for years purchasing shampoo in plastic bottles. It's an easy answer then, my mother’s life traded for warmth and seeds and fields again. But, what would I trade now for mothers to recognize what our choices mean for their children, each year a different kind of spring.

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