Today the messengers of hope arrived in little feet and rambunctious bodies.
They came six strong through the front door and five, hello hugs behind them, dashed straight out into the backyard like they were catching a train for work. Perhaps they were.
“I want to dig, Grampa,” said Maddie, as she struggled to lift a shovel twice her size.
So dig she did. And soon brother Zach got into the act as well, even as sis tried to claim the entire garden as her own.. Soon Kevin flew by to survey the action. He dropped his plastic baseball bat and bent to scoop up handfuls of fresh, moist April soil which he instinctively molded into dirt bombs. And like any almost six-year-old, he methodically smashed them one by one against the nearby garden trailer
Zachary, meanwhile, declared war on worms and was frantically trying to dig down fast enough to see where they had slithered to. In the hands of a three-year old, The spade he held suddenly looked more like a weapon than a gardening tool. One minute Zach was carefully rounding, patting and talking to the clay pot he had just tenderly filled with soil, and a heartbeat later he was on the attack for whatever crawled or dared to move.
But it was Maddie’s rhythm though that held me most. She sat, present to the moment, to the earth, the soil and what was immediately before her. She used the adult-sized spade as best she could, but preferred to bury her fingers deep, scooping the soil by hand, seemingly rolling her fingers over the loosened earth as if reading something else. Then, with both hands, she scooped her find into her makeshift bucket.
Now and then Maddie paused to scan the whereabouts of her siblings and cousins and at one point glanced upward at the pine trees waving in the wind, saying, “Gram..pa, look! It is… windy!” With that assessment done, she was back to work, scooping, feeling and inviting me to dig in as well.
Soon the call to supper rang out through the yard and in a flash mud traipsed in the door as five pairs of sneakers lost their owners in a earth-caked heap on the way to sharing one more meal together.
Just a day. And we are in it. The promise of spring nudges along with shoots and buds and little bodies blossoming into a brand new season of growing. It is enough and it feels just right.