It has been a beautiful spring …

It seems strange and uncomfortable to write that headline…. “It has been a beautiful spring…”  The tone feels somehow “off” as we are surrounded by a world fighting a virus with no known cure. The headlines this morning literally are bombarding us all with messages of “red states escalating the push to open”, and “white house officials point the finger at the CDC…” among a plethora of news stories focused on the concern and seriousness of the disease that we are all facing.  With that said, and deeply internalized, last Sunday afternoon I was a bit floored when the words of this essay’s title came out of my mouth as I was sitting by myself in our backyard.

The truth of the matter is that in the midst of this virus induced terror, it actually HAS been a beautiful spring in Atlanta.  The weather has been temperate so far, with lovely spring rains helping along the blooming of incredible spring flowers across the garden.  I have included a few photos to bring this to life, not highlighting a specific plant or flower, but just to share the casual beauty that actually IS blossoming right now in our back garden.

On top of the incredible weather and flowers, it has been ( so far!!) an incredible spring for my heirloom tomato plants!  I raise two tomato varieties that have been passed down in my family, one a old orange tomato variety that my grandmother raised for many decades before her passing in the late 90’s and another that my childhood friend Dave Carfang’s family has raised since the early 70’s.  They are flourishing with the sunny days, cool nights, and steady moderate rainfall this year and have already started to put off a large quantity of blooms that is an early record for me!

While “off tone,” and possibly “off message” to comment on this dynamic, I actually find it encouraging and “needed” (at least for me) to find a “little ray of sunshine in the midst of all the darkness.  I find these moments so helpful; where I can step out of the tempo of the work of the day, or the worries about the virus, our society, my family and those dear that I love and take a quiet breath and take in the beauty that surrounds us.

A month or so ago, I was leading a department wide zoom “call” at work,  and shared a similar story that seemed to ring home to number of others.  It was early April, the fear of Covid-19 and the “quarantine activities” we as a family and as a nation were taking to “flatten the curve” were in full gear.  Work challenges were very intense, and I had decided to take a quick walk,( to get in some steps as my friend Cathy would say) and as I went down the block I was actually startled by a power bed filled with huge blossoming irises.  It was incredible, the blues/whites and purples all in full bloom and I literally stopped for moment on the sidewalk and just took in the beauty.  as I shared that story to my team, I encouraged all of them to take a moment to get away from their screens, to take a walk or “get some air” and to pay attention to flowers or trees that they might find in their neighborhoods…. hoping that they might have a moment of beauty amidst the challenges like I did!

That dynamic is the same that I comment on today…. we will never forget the spring of 2020 with so much tragedy and so many deaths…. but that will not be the only definition of this spiring!  Equally true will be the beauty of the irises, the snap dragons and the pansies and maybe, just maybe, the best tomato crop ever!