We, Wood River residents, had one of the longest winters ever recorded here in Idaho. Here we are in mid-May and I still see patches of snow in shaded areas where my family walks. The impact of the snow took a toll on plowing and shovelling. Roads that were scraped with greater frequency to keep traffic flowing now bear the signs of pot holes surrounded by an indicative spray paint marking warning drivers to steer clear. The costs associated with pushing snow around, from city fees to HOA increases, impacted everyone’s budget. The iconic green and white farmhouse that welcomes travelers into town now represents the weight of a heavy winter, with green roof caved in like a limb distorted by fracture. The rivers, whose pristine waters fly-fishermen cast their lines upon, have turned brown and angry. The melting snow is carving new lines through neighborhoods in the form of flooding. We are still reeling from the effects of winter.
Even so, as I look outside my window, the colors of new leaves in greens and pinks and whites are coming to life. Bird songs are heard through my open morning windows. New life cannot be held back any longer. The bugs are buzzing, and the bulbs are showing off. Spring is upon us. My favorite hike is becoming accessible again, after being closed for the season due to the presence of elk in the winter. The plants along the path present like a newly woken teenager, eyes half open and bed head going every which way. They have been sleeping under the canvas of white and now is their time to begin again. Noticable changes are to be found every time I ascend the trail.
Nature has so much to teach us. I crave time to be out in it unlocking its secrets. We become troubled when nature impinges upon our structures. When hornet nests travel into our buildings, and rivers choose to re-route towards our stream side homes, and snow threatens to collapse our safe roofs, and grass shoots its way through manicured pavers, we take counter measures. There exists a palpable tension with nature and humanity. We love it when it is under our control. When it overpowers us, we battle it back into submission or try to.
I often marvel at those plants that persistently grow in unexpected places. Be it the tree surrounded by concrete, or the flower that seems to thrive on rocky soil, or the tufts of grass that peek through sidewalk seams, nature keeps holding fast to its purpose. It is meant to grow. It will grow. So when I find myself tempted to exasperation by the ants in my home or the branches of a tree that hangs over my gas grill, I think I will live into the reminder that God’s first task for us was to live as stewards of the garden. Some Bible translations use the word “subdue” when it comes to our role of management. I have never liked that interpretation. In the way a husband is to care for his wife (and likewise wife for her husband), so we are to care for the nature around us. Is that why the term “husbandry” is used? The presence of the husband is not to be twisted into domination and exploitation. The husband, ideally, will nurture with encouragement that comes from joy and delight.
My musings are not intented to solve the ongoing challenges of human impact on the world, and the world’s impact upon humans. Rather, I simply want to be more observant and therefore intentional as I walk through new seasons. This whole post could be analagous to the impact of winter upon the soul and spirit, or those parts of us God created that persistently peak back up through the sidewalks we have laid. For now it is enough to take a moment, in the busy season I have found myself in, to consider it all and write.