The forsythia blooms in a quiet corner of my yard. No window looks out upon it so it's not in my thoughts on any regular basis.
I can spend a winter of mornings staring out at the mini-glacier that creeps out from the garage shadow, marking its gradual moistening and shrinkage on warm days as the sun mounts higher and ruins its edge.
The stunned soil in the garden doesn't change. Once the snow retreats, it remains a tableau of pale dirt under the contorted stalks of eggplants and chili peppers that I should have pulled in November. Nothing changes there until I change it. By hand.
But in that quiet corner, out of sight, the forsythia has plans of its own. Yesterday, I thought to myself that it must be ready to bloom so I walked around to that corner and was met with a blaze of yellow.
It's the first real splash of color in my yard. I always intend to put bulbs in the ground in the fall and I never manage it. You can see a pattern here: in the fall, I'm just too damned busy with teaching to find the shreds of time I need to do even minimal garden tending. Generally, I surrender in September and just let things fall where they will, then spend the rest of autumn and winter hearing Warren Zevon chanting, "Shoulda done, shoulda done, we all sigh."
But the forsythia always rescues me in early April. Its joy is all out of proportion to the still-chilly nights, the indifferent sun of spring, and the teasing snows that can yet bow it and ruin most of the blooms, as happened last year just when it was just breaking out.
Meanwhile, in the garden itself, the hops are already running amok, pouring out of the ground like a fountain of barbed wire. Asparagus are poking their little purple phallic selves out of the dirt. The salad garden I put in last week is showing up—sprouts of lettuce, spinach, and mustard greens among the emergent stalks of onions.
In the herb bed, stunned parsley and tarragon are rousing. The strawberry plants look newly assertive and green. Garlic is pounding up; chives are already seasoning our omelettes in the morning. Clearly, the season is accelerating and all the promise of the garden hangs in the balance. The skies may be grey above today, but I'm looking forward to answering the call and spending those hours among the growing things, time that smooths out the rough days ahead.