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The Sepia Season

We are fortunate to be just around the corner from Baker Woods Preserve, a lovely stretch of trails where we take an almost daily walk. The recent soundscape has been heralding spring with a steady call of birdsong and throaty choruses of tree frogs, but there is still very little green peeking out from the drab, brown-gray landscape.

A local writer shared an article about another nearby nature preserve, calling this transition between winter and spring in the Midwest the "sepia season." I found this perspective surprisingly comforting. After enduring the stark black and white of a snowy winter landscape - even after a mild winter - I am always impatient for riotous sunshine and the glorious array of colors that come with flowering trees and late spring blooms.

The "sepia season" somehow also seems an appropriate backdrop for this unprecedented time in our lives, while we are caught in the midst of the already-but-not-yet of this pandemic. I have become keenly aware of being in a state of nearly constant anticipation, a sense of frustrated expectancy that closely parallels my usual experince of March. My husband has been known to remind me, referring to the painfully slow arrival of spring, that "Michigan always breaks your heart before finally coming through." In regard to this pandemic, we are likely to experience similarly interminable periods of frustration, despair, hopelessness, and impatience - with occasional glimmers of hope - before we find ourselves on the other side of it.

Hope, I'm reminded, is what the sepia season is all about! Nature is admonishing us to notice the newly emerging possibilites in the very present reality of grief, loss, decay, and uncertainty. Every little sign of spring, every example of flourishing humanity is reason to hope. At the beginning of this month, I told myself not to get my hopes up for spring until May 1st at the earliest, or I would surely be disappointed. Now, I'm honoring the early blooming crocuses and every inch of green from the spring bulbs and early perennials that are peeking out from the soil - just as I'm championing the healthcare workers who are showing up despite difficult and dangerous working conditions. I'm taking time to appreciate the tight buds forming on the trees, the raspberry canes taking on a reddish hue, the gray but still fragrant lavender foliage - just I'm relishing the grocery employees working to keep store shelves stocked, my fellow artists and musicians sharing their work to encourage and uplift others, memes that make me laugh, volunteers who continue to serve the most vulnerable among us, and amazing kids who demonstrate resilience and thoughtfulness despite the incredible upheaval in their lives.

Spring truly is emerging!

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