If we are paying attention, seasonal transitions bear powerful messages. Take note as spring finally arrives to Michigan.
Winter 2016-17 was light on snow but featured many stretches of cold, damp, sun-starved days. Notwithstanding the plethora of Michiganders who complain about snow, at least snow can be played in. Snowless winter along with damp cold essentially renders the out of doors uninhabitable.
Impotent winter also makes for long, SLOW shifts at the hardware store where I work. Pallets of salt and rows of snow shovels and ice scrapers and aisles clogged with snow blowers intended to tame and suppress winter are bypassed by customers heading to consider paint colors instead.
While some form of each season is assured every year, we humans devote more attention to suppressing nature than tuning to its voice. Despite our considerable knowledge and wherewithal, nature puts up formidable resistance to our best attempts to tame and suppress it.
In spring and summer, nature suppression shifts from reducing ice and snow impact to eliminating impediments to growing desirable foliage. Here in suburbia, the surest money bet regards growing great grass and controlling invasive weeds.
In the hardware business, Scott’s 4-Step program is a popular lawn fertilizing program for the DIY crowd. Step 1 is a crabgrass preventer and lawn food that works best if warmer temps arrive in early April. If winter’s cool lingers a little too long, customers skip to the second weed and feed step.
This year spring held back so crabgrass preventer sales lagged after initially surging. Even though May just arrived, everyone is already onto weed and feed with store supply barely meeting demand.
Untamed nature features varieties of plants indigenous to climate and countryside. Lawn-loving people on the other hand prefer graded ground, lush, weedless turf and plantings of trees and cultivated bushes and flowers arranged in fanciful contours. Nature manifests fine as the elements dictate, but humanity’s taming requires considerable earth-rearranging, chemical combos and inordinate amounts of water.
Recommended water consumption for a person is about a half gallon a day. That's 3.5 gallons each week. A healthy lawn needs about an inch of water a week, 3,100 gallons for a 5,000 square foot lawn - enough to sustain 885 people!
Having a sparse budget for landscaping, I fertilize sparingly and water almost never. However, I can toil for free! Thanks to my part-time job, I have more time available to be outside during the day to experience and observe spring’s arrival and manner.
I'm slowly coming around to thanking the Lord for clearing this space in my life to simply abide by what he brings. Where I live, the peacefulness of our sedate neighborhood while everyone else is off at their day jobs is violated by the busy M5 highway nearby imposing its considerable din on all the nature it cuts through on its way to wherever.
Yes, God charged his first people to steward his creation, but rebellious humanity inclines more toward manipulation and suppression of nature than listening for the rhythms and revelation nature prefers we tune our lives to. Meanwhile, nature seems to allow our imposition to recast it into something other than what God had in mind for us to do with it. However, its true power is really his, hiding just beneath its seemingly sedate surface, far surpassing ours.
Meanwhile, nature most often presents as kindly, winsomely inviting us with its refreshment, wonder and inspiration. As you pause to listen, be mindful that nature is created, not Creator. Nature draws us beyond, not to, itself to its Gardener ... and ours.