The world that our Montana winter suspended for the past five months is coming back to life. On my walk with Lily today I heard varied thrush, robins, and juncos singing in the treetops and Canada geese honking above us as they flew to the pond. It was delightful hearing bird music again.
Friends of mine who live in the lower elevation, ponderosa pine/grassland habitat have seen bluebirds. This means our bluebirds, who have claimed rights to the nest box on our deck the past two years, will soon return. We have also heard that the bears are out of their dens so sadly, we must wean the chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers of their sunflower seed and suet diet and pull the feeders in so we don't attract the bears.
Ever since Mom died, feeding her birds and watering her houseplants has been one way in which I connect with her. So this past Friday, which marked the year anniversary of her passing, I fed and watered those beings with a little more fanfare. I swear the little nasturtium "vine" that germinated in one of Mom's houseplant pots last year is Mom reincarnate! It grew into a diminuitive, lanky plant with a three-foot-long stem no thicker than a shoelace - an unlikely form for a nasturtium. After Mom died it put out three remarkable blooms. The nasturtium's dime- and silver-dollar-sized leaves, which stayed green throughout our long winter, have remained plastered to the window as if willing the garden outside to flourish with life. This little plant's determination to experience beauty and light is so much like Mom's that I can't help but speak to it as I would speak to Mom.
Our winter was foreshortened this year and though we need more snow I, too, am willing the garden to turn green. I am ready for life. As the garden beds reappear from beneath the snows I have been planning Mom's flower garden - a promise I made to her. I ordered the seeds she picked out from last spring's flower catalogs and will start them inside. Then in June I will transplant the seedlings into "Mary's Montana Garden."
As time has passed I have felt Mom's absence more and more deeply - something I can't shake off and don't want to. When my emotions consume me and I wish I could bring Mom back, I am grateful that the flowers and birds are who help me feel connected with her. They don't question the rhythm of their lives. They simply live. They come and go, never remain static. As I watch them I can hear Mom say "That's the way it is. You might as well just accept it."
And so I will. I can't think of a more joyful way to feel close to Mom.