I have sometimes thought of spring like a conversion––Paul on the Damascus Road. A field I have driven past all winter is suddenly and without warning painted in colors of green, yellow, pink, and blue. Overnight, it seems. The new life of spring, green and fresh, supplants last year's old life, depleted and dried.
It isn't really like that, although it appears that way through my driver's side window. Up close, it looks very different. Spring, it turns out, does not magically appear overnight, but sneaks up slowly before the surprise attack.
I walked for an hour in the prairie this morning and noticed the evidence of the coming insurrection. Scanning the fields, I could see only the brown, dried stalks of little bluestem, switchgrass, side oats, camphor weed, and scores of other grasses and forbs that once bloomed and flourished but now stood brittle and lifeless.
However, beneath the cover of those old stalks, something else is taking place. A green carpet is beginning to spread, preparing to burst into colors and reclaim the fields in a glorious revolution that happens every spring.
Texas Ragwort is springing up, forming its blossoms, preparing to cover the prairie in bright yellow, and hosting bees and wasps and butterflies.
Dakota Mock Vervain, one of the first blooms to show up each year, is already opening its tiny, pink and purple flowers and staking spring's claim.
Bluebonnets, which showed up with their little Mickey Mouse ear sprouts in December, are now spreading and expanding, eager to make Texans proud in a few weeks.
Yellow Corydalis aurea, also known as Scrambled Eggs, has already appeared.
As has the Western Tansy Mustard.
I think renewal is often like this. I wait for the sudden conversion in my life or my world, which seldom comes. Instead, evidence of the new life shows up here and there, beautiful and small but indicative of the powerful force that is driving it to the surface, a sign of so much more to come.
I don't mean to sound maudlin, but it strikes me that as I watch my sixty-ninth spring dawn around me, I will get to witness a finite, small, and diminishing number of those in my life. Once, they seemed ordinary and plentiful. They are not. I hope to observe this revolution in detail, gratefully and affectionately.